For many years, I never really knew where home was. I knew where my house was, I knew where my parents were from, I knew where I was born, but I was never quite sure about home. I had been born in Philadelphia, but moved overseas with my parents at ten months old. They were missionaries with CLC and I ended up living in four different countries before I was fifteen. As a fifteen year old, I left home to finish high school at a boarding school in North Carolina and stayed with my grandparents in New Jersey during the summers. This nomadic life was a rich and wonderful experience but often left me feeling deeply un-rooted.
This feeling of un-rootedness is actually fairly common amongst missionary kids and was probably true for many of the kids I grew up with. By the time I attended Messiah College near Harrisburg, PA, I was determined to have a place that I could call home once and for all. In God’s providence, I found my wonderful spouse, Deb, during my college years and we settled down in the suburban Harrisburg area with a subtle determination to put down roots.
We were blessed to be able to establish ourselves professionally and move from an apartment into a house of our own within a few short years. So much seemed to be falling into place – even our five year plan to wait and start a family. Despite this, I could not escape the nagging feeling that something was just not right about our situation. What was I missing? We both had great careers, a house of our own, a church we loved, and a new son on the way.
The missing link was God’s plans for our lives. Everything up to that point had been motivated by our career aspirations, the expectations of friends and family, my desire for deep roots and the desire to please God by what we were doing. In a blog post for another day, I can share about how God got ahold of my heart and gave me a new dream. He gave me a dream of an eternal home where moth and rust cannot destroy and thieves will not break in and steal. This dream, however, was not going to be fulfilled in the safety and security of a good paying job, where I got to call the shots. Instead, it required complete surrender to His will for me and my family.
It also required selling our house and moving onto a mission campus where we would never own a house again. In the irony of God’s love for me and my family, it also meant that one day, we would move into the house that my grandparents and parents had lived in on this mission campus. We would ultimately live for the majority of my adult life within a few minutes of the very hospital that I was born in. I would get to live in one place for a really long time, become a member of a local church where I would one day become an elder and I would serve as the leader of the US branch of the ministry that my grandfather had founded.
So where is home – it is wherever God calls you to serve. Nothing is more unsettling that trying to put down roots in a place that God has not planned for you to go – Jonah found that out the hard way. The most satisfying place to live is in the center of God’s will, wherever that is. For me and my family, that has been a missionary campus near the city of Philadelphia on a hill in a house that we will never own. What a journey this has been so far.