Major shifts come in life. Moving from one place to another can often seem like a whole re-engagement with the world, and ultimately messes with all our self-certainty. Such shifts are a welcome release for our spirits which are most of the time too clogged down by the power of habit. Our habits actually need to be crushed once in a while to prove to ourselves that our minds are incapable of coping with the challenges of life.
I’m going home and a homecoming is always a celebration. The prodigal runs into the Father’s arms and a radical shift takes place in his identity. Radical because he is ‘re-rooted’. Without homecomings, we lose track of where we are and are eventually without purpose and without roots. Just going along the way we’ve started because we’ve started and so we have to finish. Sometimes you don’t have to finish. Sometimes you just have to drop it.
As I’m waiting for confirmation of some things before I begin to move forward in the next steps of my career, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways in which my heart is invested in circumstances. Too often our identity is affirmed by what we do and our routines. A crisis is triggered when the routine is interrupted. The severity of the crisis will be determined by the measure of this investment. Stability is not routine. Routine leaves a person gutless, with no power of decision. I pray that I would be continually saved from routine by a living present.
Serenity is the possession of the spirit that is not invested in or identified by circumstance.
King David and his son, Solomon, had an understanding that man’s purpose and identity are not defined by any circumstance of life, but are much more profound.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted ETERNITY in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy]… (Ecclesiastes 3:11 AMP, emphasis added)
Whether he knows it or not, every man is caught in the tension between the eternity of his creation and the immediacy of his daily life. A sense of limbo in times of waiting or uncertainty can actually be healthy when it reminds us that we have a home and a stability outside of present circumstances, whenever we choose to embrace it.
David described it this way,
For we are ALIENS and PILGRIMS before You,
As were all our fathers;
Our days on earth are as a shadow,
And without hope. (1 Chronicles 29:15 NKJV, emphasis added)
The sense of loss and instability in a time of waiting, or what many Christians would refer to as a ‘wilderness period’, is actually man stepping into his true identity which is far more enduring than a circumstance of life. Man should feel like a stranger in the earth; his home is not on earth but in the heart of God where he was formed. A soul estranged from the heart of God is inevitably in a perpetual identity crisis until it returns. The despised times of waiting, or better continuing, are the real substance of life where character is formed.
The Westminster Catechism states that,
Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
When we find our identity in God, we suffer tension, but find the glory of our creation. A spirit that has this root is stable and has no hope in the circumstance of life, but in a living hope which far exceeds and extends beyond the earth. According to the book of Hebrews, Abraham found this hope along with Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua and many of the other figures of Jewish history. They didn’t see their hope on earth, but were unshaken, because their identity was in God and their perspective was eternal.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were STRANGERS and PILGRIMS on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a HOMELAND. And truly if they had called to mind that country FROM WHICH THEY HAD COME OUT, they would have had opportunity to RETURN. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16 NKJV, emphasis added)
Jesus has prepared a place for you. Live in God. Practice His presence. Be identified by heaven. Be always at home.
This blog entry is dedicated to Tim Shey, the High Plains Drifter whose pilgrimage on the roads of America reminded me that I am a stranger on the earth.