I am on vacation, hundreds of miles from home. While my family and friends are up north in cold damp weather, I am in sunny Florida for the duration of winter. At home the tree limbs are bare, the flowers still blanketed, and the birds feeding, not nesting. Here, in Naples, palm trees sway, tropical flora glistens in the sun, and shorts are the dress of the day. The air is warm and the birds cheerful and promiscuous.
Still, I am homesick.
My husband, dog, and I are comfortable in our Class A motor coach we live and travel in, with its upgrades and shiny amenities, but it is not home and the pavement outside is not my garden. I miss my space.
It seems to make sense, even normal, to depend on people, jobs, health, or our homes for our happiness, comfort, and safety. Look around at everybody humming along appearing to be content with the way life is going. Here in our paved and manicured RV resort, the sun-kissed seniors are cheerful and relaxed, reflecting for the most part their retirement plans were trustworthy. Where is God in all that well-made “normal” confidence?
My faith flourishes when I am home with familiar surroundings, close to the kids, and my warm church family. Here in Florida where our house is precisely designed to fit on four wheels, it is hard to find a quiet place to chat with God and pray. The folks we meet are friendly, but are they spirit-filled? And the church we visited felt strange even though we were heartily welcomed.
“Where is God? Why can’t I hear His voice?” I whine. Did I leave Him at home when we went on vacation?
It is interesting how God will find your real weakness, the thing you bank your life on, and obsess over, then will remove it. He wants our dependency to be in Him alone. He has nailed mine - that place that has held my security and comfort. When God nails the thing that diverts our focus from Him, He nails it to the Cross.
Satan has been pulling at my dependency strings and I get it now. What I wanted and thought I needed, has been MY way, not God’s way, or even God Himself. As Christians, we are called to bring the light of Christ into the world, to the ends of the earth, even around an RV park.
When we feel unbalanced and are in a strange place, we are actually in the spotlight of God, standing on firm ground. Like the Israelites, He brings each one of us to a wilderness to get into our faces, grab our attention, and shake us to the core until we surrender all that we think we need for Him alone. Then He uses us in the making of His kingdom.
The Apostle Paul, after His life-altering encounter with Christ, went far away without disciple or mentor into a wilderness where he was completely dependent on God alone to learn the truths of the Jesus he had once maligned. When he returned, Paul was totally separated by God for the single purpose of proclaiming the Gospel. (Galatians 1:15-18)
Jesus, Himself, went into the wilderness for forty days and endured every provocation that contradicted His holiness, overcoming Satan’s most devious attacks. When Jesus returned, He was prepared to save mankind. God was in Him as He is in God.
“God speaks in the language you know best - not through your ears, but through your circumstances.” O. Chambers –“My Utmost for His Highest”
A couple of days ago, minor medical circumstances led me to the ER downtown in the center of deep-rooted wealth and posh Naples. There, within the pink stucco walled waiting room was the agonizing result of lost dependencies. Dozens of elderly people, who once decades ago, or maybe ten minutes before, had been successful, wealthy and healthy, were now weak in wheelchairs and walkers, feeble-minded, and very sick. They desperately depended on nurses, orderlies, doctors, and hospital care. In this wilderness of trauma and trepidation, I saw God. Normally I would be frightened and repulsed by such sickness and medical urgency, but that morning God’s presence calmed my panic.
The Holy Spirit whispered, urging me to walk among those people bereft in their circumstances to give them a pat on the shoulder, a comforting word, or a prayer. But I was with my husband who is not quite as expressive as I am, so in respect to him, I kept my seat and walked prayers through the aisles. God gave me words for each person in the waiting room and inside the bustling, hustling room of emergency care. Within the confines of a wilderness defying all of my comforts, I was with God alone.
Am I still homesick and do I miss my children? Yes and oh, yes! But I am on a wilderness vacation with God. He alone will prepare me for His work, just as He is preparing all of us, wherever we are, to shine bright His Light.
In God alone, we find our home.
“I delight to do Your will, O my God…” (Psalm 40:8)