I’m sitting at home on this Sunday morning, coughing and sneezing from a very nasty cold I picked up in Poland last week. You would think a European-derived head cold would be somehow more charming, but I can assure you, it’s not. It snot. Or whatever.
My visit in Poland, minus the head cold, was actually very pleasant. It is quite magical to have big, snowflakes swirling around you while surrounded by very old and beautiful buildings in old cities. It was fun to actually need scarves and gloves and boots. But probably the best part were the inspiring and interesting conversations I had with my dear friend who I went to see, and with new friends I made over there. Because of how much we wanted to say in a short amount of time, and because of my cold, I lost my voice. I was literally only able to whisper when I left Poland early Wednesday morning. Sometimes it is your heart you lose in places, sometimes it is your voice 🙂
I suppose being thousands of miles from home is a really good place to be when considering a new year and new possibilities. And being forced into silence due to a voice issue, is probably also beneficial for introspection and looking forward.
I wrote a blog piece here about my goals and direction for this past year. It has been a good year. For those of us who love learning and who love ideas and who are always curious about what’s around the next corner, it can be overwhelming. We don’t always know when or how to stop and so putting some safeguards into place for me really helped me.
I think even in taking a break from all the noise out there, and getting involved with every issue that comes along, there is still a lot to sort through, a lot to try to understand.
My generation is the generation of the wanderers. The wonderers. “Not all who wander are lost,” is our slogan as we exchange city limits for open roads and mortgages for cool retro vans. And I get it. I love the thrill of the unknown, especially as it relates to travel. The foreign languages in international terminals and exotic destinations on airport screens tease of places to explore and new cultures to love.
I think this way of thinking has subtly moved into areas of faith and into how we see God and each other. It has moved us away from each other as we all experience God on our own individual journeys. “You do you, and I’ll do me”, while it sounds good, can easily turn into walls that we build around ourselves, protecting us from the hard parts of relationships but also keeping out the potential of the beautiful. Spiritual life on the road can also give false illusions that God’s goodness or abundance is a thing to be experienced around the next corner, or at the next pullover. Chasing more, but never really getting there. I think the scariest part of spiritual wandering is that there ultimately is no desired destination.
Some of the above is where I could naturally go spiritually if not for God. And I think for me, the years of 2019 and 2020 are the years for coming home. The Bible is full of beautiful imagery for dwelling. (“I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”) For postures of stillness: (“be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in God’s work.”) For the boldness of confidence in knowing Who and What we have and are believing. For abiding.
This seems like it should take away the thrill factor of faith but it actually doesn’t. It just provides the framework in which it can most deeply be enjoyed and experienced.
Tuning out the noise of all the authors and speakers and platforms and everything that goes with that is a practical way for me to park my van. Choosing instead to have God and His Voice and His Word as my filter for everything in life is a practical way to erect my tent and to live in God’s house. God’s kingdom is full of tents, and here we engage with each other and build each other up, and here we reach out to those who have yet to find and experience Him. Abiding in God’s house collectively is how we best interact with each other individually.
This might sound all poetic and fru-fru, but here is what it means for me practically:
- I cannot learn and tangle with ideas and literature and music merely for the sake of learning or fitting in with certain crowds. Whatever I pursue intellectually should ultimately lead me closer to Christ and truth.
- I must learn honesty with myself and my desires. Why I want to pursue or engage with something is sometimes more important than the thing itself.
- It does not mean spiritual or personal laziness. I must find ways as I dwell in God’s house, to exercise my faith and to encourage growth that are God- honoring and Spirit-led.
- It means a narrowing of my worldview and my focus. It means exchanging some abstract for the grittiness of reality, which many of my kind can struggle with. It also might mean saying no to engaging with popular but questionable issues that come along.
- It means putting in the work of relationships and going the second mile when it’s hard. That’s what living in tents next to each other in God’s house is all about.
I probably could have worded it better because it could sound depressing and restrictive and stifling, but I can speak from experience that this past year for me in this has been incredibly liberating. It has cleared my head and my heart, and it has replaced anxiety with peace, and wondering with knowing. It has given me confidence in knowing Who and what I have to offer to a broken world.
I have no idea who all reads this, but if you struggle like me in these areas, and life can quickly become hazy and complex and confusing, try parking your van and coming home this year. God’s house has the best views!
Disclaimer: This is not to diminish the necessity of owning and coming to grips with your faith. Our faith journeys should include asking hard questions, prowling around down in the foundations, and really seeking to understand. But it should ultimately lead us to God’s house and His people and His kingdom. Some of us can easily stay in the questions, get lost in the basement, and consequently miss out on some of the most wonderful aspects of what it means to be part of something so much bigger than ourselves.