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Travels

The past year has been full of travels.

Between the unexpected and carefully planned trips, I’ve spent over 32 hours on trains, 16+ hours in airplanes (not to mention waiting around at airports), and I have no idea how much car time I’ve chocked up between drives to NH and shorter day trips to meet up with people or to just get away.

For those of you who know me well, you’re probably thinking, “Whoa, Alicia, what’s gotten into you?” Or “Wow, are you doing okay?” You see, ironically, I’m not much of a traveler.
This sojourner’s tendency is to strongly prefer to stay in the simplicity of home. Yes, I could easily be considered a fairly experienced traveler, but travel rarely excites me. It’s just an inconvenient string of events that requires a lot of hurry up and wait. This year, however, God has been using travel as a significant tool to work in me some significant truths.

Back in November, I had the privilege of taking an unexpected trip to Texas. I’d never been to Texas and never dreamed I would ever have a reason to visit such a vast and great land.

A couple of months previous, a very dear and new-found friend from this last summer at Life Action Camp invited me to join her family in Texas for the week of Thanksgiving. I have to say the invite caught me off guard and my initial reaction was to decline the generous offer. It became quickly evident, however, that this trip was a gift. Not just from the family who offered to welcome me—a stranger—into their home for such a family oriented and home centered holiday, but this brief journey was a very timely gift from our great and loving Father.

From the moment I stepped foot in their house, and received welcome hugs from these dear strangers, I knew I was Home.

Christ was there. And the subsequent shalom that permeates any place when He is valued and proclaimed as front and center was overwhelmingly evident.

In this broken world we live in, Home is often an elusive concept. We all long for it even when it is staring us in the face. Since I first journeyed out of the home of my parents in 2003, I’ve spent the last 12 years in search of Home. And after moving to Michigan last May with no expectation to return “home” to New England, I’ve felt very out of place and yet very “at home.” There is a sense of belonging here that I wasn’t expecting to feel and yet it is mingled with a very real sense of unfamiliarity that keeps one from feeling truly “at home.”

But our great God and Father is so gracious. He is continually redirecting and molding my heart into His Home. I’m slowly beginning to grasp a small piece of the secret that the apostle Paul mentioned in his letter to the Philippians, “For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (4:11b-12).

I’m not facing severe adversity nor am I facing great financial need or physical hunger. But, I am learning the deeper secrets of true and lasting contentment. As my King and Savior teaches me to rest my heart in Him, find my joy in Him, and ultimately look for Home where He is, I’m slowly beginning to understand that secret Paul spoke of, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (4:13).

When the eyes of my heart are fixed on Christ, it doesn’t mater if I’m traveling or am safely “at home.” This sojourner is learning to be Home and fully engaged wherever my Savior leads me whether it’s at home, on a brief day trip, or a longer journey that my require difficult goodbyes. If our work is for an eternal Kingdom that will last beyond the transient nature of our current state, than we desperately need to learn how to leave ourselves behind and set our sights on our true Home and work tirelessly for that Kingdom for it is only then that our hearts will truly find and engage in the freedom of Home.

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A Glance Homeward

About a month ago I watched with eager anticipation as the leaves here in southwest Michigan turned brilliant orange and gold with a little red mixed in here and there. The fall season seems to last longer here than in New England but it’s more spread out with each type of tree turning with significant gaps resulting in a more gradual and thinned out spread of the fiery treetops. There is something about the fall that turns my heart to glance homeward.

It starts with missing the charm and beauties of my small hometown nestled safely in the valley between our two mountains. Then my affections quickly shift to the joy of remembering all the dear friends who I’ve had the privileged of doing life with over the last three decades. At this point, joy mingles with the deep ache of longing as tears remind me that Home is far greater than this sojourner’s geographical location and even deeper than my family and friends.

Home is what we’re all working toward–both in eternity and the excitement or seemingly mundane of today. Our hearts are always in pursuit of our true Home (Ecclesiastes 3:11). One that is guarded by the shalom that Jesus bought with His blood.

Home is also the present reality of my King and serving in and for His Kingdom.

By the freedom that was purchased through our Redeemer’s sacrifice, we have the ability to truly LIVE right now with an abandon and fullness that this world cannot fathom (John 10:10b; Galatians 5:1).

So, when I catch myself longing for home or the ideal of home, these truths are where I set my heart and sights.