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At Home in the Wilderness

This past weekend my wife Carolyn and I moved two of our college aged children out of the house. My son, Seth, to Nashville for his junior year and my daughter, Danielle for her freshman year at Western Kentucky. It was a busy weekend and an even busier month. It has been a month closely associated with loss. Along with the kids moving out, my mother passed away this month. She was 94 years old and ready to move on to be with our Lord. Loss is something we do not usually think about until we experience it but maybe we should be more aware that it is part of our every day life.

It has often seemed to me that having a Christian world view means that we exist in a state of loss.
Timothy Keller in The Prodigal God agrees and reading his book reminded me of our existential state of homelessness. I touched on this in my previous blog concerning our fear associated with being homeless. How often do we think of our selves as homeless unless we are literally without a home? And yet according to Scripture we are without a home. Jesus' words: “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no where to lay his head” is a commentary that this life on earth is not our home. It is a central message of the Gospel of Christ that we are lost and then found. But how aware are we of this state of loss, homelessness, and fear? I really do not go around feeling lost and afraid 24/7, until something happens to remind me of it.

Most of us have been homesick at one time or another. My daughter is experiencing a good dose of this at college and it is something she did not expect. Homesickness is that feeling of being “a stranger in a strange land.” Our identity, our sense of security or who we are is very much tied to a feeling of being at home. Jesus' message is that we are not truly at home until we find our home in Him.

Maybe it is because of God's mercy that we are not always aware of our state of homelessness. Most of us have places of refuge where we do feel at home with our families or our spouse. We do have loving relationships that can give us a sense of security, a feeling of belonging. We could not survive a constant state of alone unless we did. But we also need to be reminded of our vulnerable state. My daughter said she did not prepare to miss home. She was caught off guard by feelings of vulnerability and she does not like it. None of us do.

And yet it is probably the best place we can be, knowing our vulnerability so we can know our need for connection. My daughter, like all of us wants to be in control to avoid vulnerability because of feelings of fear associated with it. We spend most of our energy and effort trying to avoid feeling vulnerable and afraid by being in control, in control of our finances, of our relationships, of our career, of every moment of our day. But what would it be like if we embraced our true state of affairs? What if we let ourselves experience our vulnerability and thus our need for security, for one another, for God? I think if would really be good.

I don't know about you, but I always feel safer when I am around someone that is not trying to control everything but is able to live in a place of trust, like Jesus in the wilderness. He believed and trusted in the provision of the Father in spite of his deprivation in the wilderness. In the wilderness, he did nothing, even though he could, to provide for himself, to control his environment or even get out of it: “It is not good to live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds form the mouth of God.”

Maybe an awareness that we live in a wilderness of homelessness helps us live a life of vulnerability to one another and to God. It forces us to confess our need, to turn to each other and to God and thus to discover that we never really are alone and on our own.

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