Ever feel like a stranger in a strange land?
I have lived in large urban areas my entire life except for the 4 years of college in the corn capital of DeKalb, Illinois. Now for the past 5 years, I have lived among miles and miles of farmland. Our closest Walmart is an hour away and my kids go to a school where the graduating class is about 10 students. We live on a 30 acre “hobby” farm 12 miles from the kid’s school and all around us we are surrounded by large family farms who make their living from what they grow. Families farm thousands of acres of canola, flax, and corn to put food on our and their family’s tables. Drive up the dirt road to our farmhouse and you’ll notice our closest neighbor is about a mile away. I have spent the last 5 years learning about “elevators”, the grain kind, not the up and down kind. I know how to collect eggs from our 45 chickens and I thank God for our neighbors who are ready to dig us out of snow drifts in the cold North Dakota winters. All the above has become my new normal and though it’s been an exciting new adventure for my little family, I still feel a little different here.
I’ve been gone from my hometown for almost 24 years. I have loved the adventure God has lead me on but there’s something about going…home. Home, where just being in familiar places brings comfort and peace. It’s feeling known in a deep inner way that doesn’t go away, even after being gone for so long. I still visit at least once a year and attend church in the place where I came to know the Gospel and I always visit with my friend of over 36 years when we met as early teens. Because the experience is so rich, I literally grieve for a few days when I must leave.
Those feelings of being away from home are the closest experiences I can use to explain the longing all of us who follow Christ feel as we realize that this earthly life is truly not our home. I may assume that it’s a common experience to all humanity that there’s just something missing. Could it be the reason that most people are searching and looking for something … more? More money, love, status, purpose, possessions. However it’s never enough. As Christ followers, we grow to love and know God more, yet we increasingly feel the gap between this broken world and the place He is preparing for us. We long for the presence of God because that’s the only place where we will experience complete wholeness. We know something’s missing in this life because we are not face to face with the Father, made complete in eternity. I know all too well the faults and failures of my life, even on this side of grace. That is why the hope of our lives is rooted in the truth that one day we will be completely new. This world will be completely redeemed. No more pain or sorrow. God will restore all things. We long for… we hope for…that day.
In Romans, there is beautiful imagery that even creation itself is longing to be made whole again. Even today as we witness natural disasters and the power and force of storms, it is as if the natural world is longing… is hoping…. to be made complete again too.
“For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now”. Romans 8:22 NASB
Like the expectant woman in labor, there is pain and longing for the Christ follower until what we’ve been hoping for is revealed. When sin ravaged the relationship between a perfect God and His perfect creation, we have been in a state of anticipation for when that gap will be closed. We are waiting.
I don’t know about you but my heart gets weary everyday as I live in this world, seeing the pain all around me and in me. I long for the day when there are no more tears, no more pain. But until that day we are to be people of hope. Living hope. Living in the now and not yet, we must live filled with a hope that sustains our weary souls. We are called to live in that hope in such a way that the weary world is drawn to the hope we possess. After trying to fill the gap in their lives with people, possessions, addictions, and more, our world is weary and looking for the hope that will not disappoint. The world may not know it is the God of their souls, but as long as they keep seeking, we have the opportunity to let them know there IS something... Someone to hope in.
Living hope. It is a courageous and enduring path for all who long for that which has been promised. There WILL be a day when we will hear the words of the One we hope in,
“It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost… I will be his God and he will be My son.”
Revelation 21:6-7 NASB
Mary Quillin is a city-girl-turned-country-girl in her new life in North Dakota. She has been married to her hubby for 16 years and has 3 wonderfully, different kids who have begun their teen years (and she would appreciate all the prayers as possible on that note). After many years in full time ministry, Mary is learning how to show up and daily discover the journey of being available for whatever Jesus leads her to. She spends her days trying to build a welcoming shabby chic home in the heartland of North Dakota while learning to write and run.