Our home -- Porto Martins, Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal
k. It's a military blog written from a Christian perspective entitled:
I have found that upon our return from America, this big Portuguese house with the marble floors and the huge gate that opens and shuts every time we drive up and the washing machine that is far too slow and small to resemble anything I've seen in America and the tiny European refrigerator and the lack of heat and air ... that it feels a bit more like home this year.
I think it's a combination of me feeling better, JB's mom being here with us, and knowing that we only have about eight more months to go!
But this article reminded me that, as Christians, we aren't home yet! We shouldn't ever feel like we are home until we are in home in heaven!
While this assignment has been, by far, my most difficult, I strive to remember that this is where the Lord has called me! Why has he called me here? It may be that I am here for just one other person. And I may never know my purpose at Lajes this side of heaven. But I intend to live as a Christian, support my husband, and raise my family -- wherever he places me.
All these people were still living by faith when they died . . . And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth . . . they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.—Hebrews 11:13,16
We arrived at this new assignment exhausted from an intense operational tempo—so this was supposed to be that wonderful year at the “schoolhouse” when we’d be able to catch our breath before moving on. But I just wasn’t into it.
I remember speaking the words, “What in the world am I doing here?” and hoping no one heard me (yea, right—neighbors were in ear-shot of everything!).
From past assignments I could pretty much count on it taking about six months for a new place to “feel” like home. In the meantime I would go through the motions . . . and try to get in step with the local atmosphere and pace. I have heard others give similar guidelines for normality, including these statements:
It won’t feel like home until the boxes are all unpacked.
It won’t feel like home until the pictures are hung.
It won’t feel like home until we’ve weathered our first big storm.
It won’t feel like home until we’ve had our first company for dinner.
It won’t feel like home until we’ve made our first trip to the emergency room.
It won’t feel like home until we’ve had a holiday here.
It won’t feel like home until my spouse is back from deployment.
Typical for our family was “It won’t feel like home until the first batch of chocolate chip cookies comes hot out of the oven.”
I tried. I tried to be flexible and adaptable—knowing that it was important for the kids to start with a good attitude. . . and important to my husband who didn’t have time to “feel” anything about whether he was home or not!
One of the many things I admire about military families is their adaptability. Oswald Chambers, speaking about Joseph (Genesis 37-50) & his adaptation to life in and out of prison in Egypt, says, “Joseph’s adaptability was superb. . . Adaptability is the power to make a suitable environment for oneself out of any set of circumstances. Most of us are all right if we can live in our own particular setting, with our own crowd, but when we get pitchforked somewhere else either we cannot adapt ourselves, or we adapt ourselves too easily and lose God.” (p. 980)
Chambers credits Joseph’s adaptability with his “uncommon spirit”—a life lived with the awareness of God’s presence at every point and in every place. He states, “A life with presence, i.e., an uncommon spirit, redeems any situation from the commonplace. It may be cleaning boots, doing house work, walking in the street, any ordinary thing at all, but immediately it is touched by a man or woman with presence it ceases to be commonplace.” (p. 980)
But as military members, and Christians, we have another way to look at our ability to move around and still be content. I believe we can be the perfect illustration, or metaphor, of how mature Christians are supposed to look at life on this earth. We are only pilgrims here, or sojourners . . . knowing that our true home is in heaven. In Philippians 3:19,20 the Apostle Paul contrasts a non-believer (“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things”) with a believer in Jesus Christ (“But our citizenship is in heaven”).
Oswald Chambers uses the description of Abraham in Genesis 23:3,4 as “a stranger and sojourner” to add: “Abraham could never say that he was at home in Canaan, he left his home (in Haran) never to find another on earth. The thought of pilgrimage sank deep into the Hebrew mind, and the note of the sojourner is, essentially the note of the Christian. . . The genius of the Spirit of God is to make us pilgrims, consequently there is the continual un-at-home-ness in this world (Philippians 3:20).” (p. 908)
So if you’re feeling “not at home” today . . . wherever you are . . . maybe that’s a good thing. In today’s vernacular maybe we should “embrace” that, knowing as Christians we are not at home yet. And that perspective might be the reminder we need that there are better days ahead . . . once we are truly at home with our Savior in heaven. Be encouraged!
Chambers, Oswald. The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers (Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers, 2000)