Posted in Living this Life

True Treasure

I can still see him when I glance over at my living room table.

Beard full and white. Eyes full of the humility, joy, and the wisdom of a life fully lived for Jesus. One of the few in my life who was there when I was a baby. He and his amazing wife helped introduce my parents to life in Africa. A part of my spiritual heritage. He wasn’t my blood uncle, but there’s a lifelong bond when Africa is in your blood. So we called him “Uncle Gene”.

 

And there he sat, at my dining room table – laughing, telling stories, giving gifts, eating half frozen cheesecake with my family and sipping his tea. He gave me a fresh glimpse of Jesus that day. And then he was gone.

I didn’t know that day would be the last time I’d see him and get to hear his stories – this side of heaven. But I’m so glad we had that beautiful day.

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And I can’t get these words out of my head. These beautiful words from his wife as cancer was taking over his body. “All his assignments were completed and now he waits for deliverance to his eternal home… we are grateful. We have lived a full almost 58 years in God’s service and are thankful that He chose us as His messengers, weak and sinful as we are. But we are also redeemed by the blood of Jesus and lack nothing”

All his assignments were completed. Or as Jesus puts it, “Well done, good and faithful servant… come and share your Master’s happiness” (Mt 25:23)

This isn’t about death. This is about life! Your life, my life, right here, right now.

Come with me here – into another story. Because this too – this beautiful and strange juxtaposition of the things of life. This is what I saw, driving by our local taekwondo studio.

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I was surprised. We expect to see trophies and medals in display cases, declaring to the world our accomplishments, not thrown out to rust and be put in the dumpster. So I asked my friend why – why have all your trophies just been thrown away like that?

He  simply said they were his personal trophies and he was throwing them out because he didn’t have space for them and didn’t need them anymore.

I couldn’t help but think of the moment he won each of those trophies. Of the years of hard work, dedication, and practice that went into each win. I know him – he once told us that it took him 10 years of competition before he won anything. 10 years of trying and failing – before he landed the trophy. I think of the rush he must have felt – the accomplishment, the confirmation that he was the best. And yet, here they lie, rusting under the rain and sun, a discarded heap.

We all know the value of a trophy isn’t in the metal or plastic they’re made of. We value our trophies for what they represent. What they say about us. When the rest of the world rushes by and we feel small and insignificant, this symbol tells us that we matter. That we are good at something.

You may not be into martial arts. You may not care about sports at all. I have never won a trophy in my life … but I have built up a closet full of other trophies.

Those things we hold on to because they tell us what we want to believe about ourselves.

Those accolades that say we are important.

The applause of our peers, the affirmation of our parents, the “good works” that we hope others will see, that big house or fancy car that lets everyone know we matter.

I spent most of my life chasing the approval of others. I remember moving to Los Angeles from Africa at 14 years old… shy, insecure, awkward, and desperate for approval. I met a girl at a “get to know you event” and when she found out I was from Africa, she rolled her eyes, said, “oh, well that’s weird”, and walked away. We don’t forget those moments that make us shrink back and wish we could disappear, do we? I did well in high school, I graduated with honors and got a load of awards, but I don’t really remember those – I remember the awkward moments of not belonging, not fitting in. Because that was the trophy I craved. That is what I felt I needed.

What is the trophy that you chase? What is it that will finally tell you that you’ve “arrived”? That you are important to someone or matter to the world? We all have them, we store them up in our hearts until the dust makes our souls decay. We find we are selling ourselves for a drink that will never quench our thirst and we can no longer stand under the weight of our own expectations.

You probably have heard these words in many contexts … read them again and let them read your heart.

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:19-21

What is your treasure? It will define every part of how you live you life, and how you assess your life. The great irony here is that we can’t produce what we need our treasure to be – it all comes as a gift. A proper aligning of who we are in the big picture of mankind. We can only determine true treasure in our lives when we see ourselves as the treasure we are.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

“You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God.” Isaiah 62:3

“For you created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Ps 139:13-14

When we bow our hearts to His majesty, when we repent of our attempts to build idols in the mud of our ambition, when we let His death on the cross cover over a lifetime of sins, we enter into the stream of true treasure. Come! Sit here with me awhile. Let the renewing flood of mercy fill your soul and show you who you truly are.

My heart is full and tinged with that bittersweet mixture of sadness and joy today, when I think about my dear Uncle Gene. I am overjoyed at the glory he is experiencing now, the hope lived his whole life in light of has been fulfilled. I am sad because I will miss his presence in my life. But when I think of that day sitting around my dining room table, and I remember the stories he told and the fire in his eyes, I am drawn to true treasure.

Thank you, Uncle Gene.

Posted in Living this Life

Walk on

I just can’t get over this story.

I close my eyes, and I can see him.

Face dripping with mud, eyes blind, feet walking… groping, feeling, falling, stumbling.

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I wonder if he hears laughter from those around.

Or if it’s just silence. That awkward, long silence when no one knows what to say or do.

And I don’t know why I’ve never seen it before in all the times I’ve read this story, but there is a detail hidden here that has changed the face of it for me. And brought it to life in a whole new way. John 9 tells about a man born blind. Jesus is leaving the temple after a toxic confrontation by the spiritual leaders, and here sits this man. Many who study this think Jesus’ encounter with the blind man happens as He is leaving the temple grounds. I’ve read many commentaries and discussions about Jesus strangely making mud with spit and rubbing it on the man’s eyes. But what follows is what has captured my mind lately.

After making the strange mud paste and applying it to the man’s eyes, Jesus tells him to wash in the pool of Siloam. Having never been there, I had never realized how far away that was. Jesus asks this man to walk 1,000 yards, or more easily understood, one half mile! Picture in your mind something that is ½ mile from where you are sitting right now.  Try to imagine what it would be like to walk that entire distance – with everyone watching while the mud drips down your face, not sure of what is actually happening.

I wonder what he’s feeling. Is he hopeful? Embarassed? Or just plain confused? I’m sure he’s heard the mocking before. He knows what everyone’s thinking – but right here, right now, he walks on. This walk must have seemed unending. One half mile of walking in the darkness towards an unknown future with hope alone carrying him.Hope in the form of mud. He must have walked this road many times before – but today, 1,000 yards must have taken forever!

I think about my own long walks toward healing. Times when the road seemed too long and there was no guarantee of what lay on the other side. When my own swirling thoughts threatened to keep me trapped in a darkness of my own making. The voice of Jesus was so quiet – but it was there. Speaking through the mud, through the confusion, through the pain – saying “walk on”.

I think about a long walk of obedience – down the longest jetway of my life onto a plane to take me to Amsterdam. I had never felt so alone in my life, but I could hear that still small voice whispering in my ear, “walk on”.

I think of sitting in a NICU ward by my baby boy – scared, confused, unsure of where this calebroad was taking me. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2

Or times when I couldn’t even see a road, and the darkness screaming at me threatened to engulf me – but still His voice was there. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

So the blind man walks on – and so do we. Towards our Pool of Siloam – our pool of healing.

I can’t get over this story. Because it’s my story.

I don’t understand the mud. Many people smarter than me have pontificated long and hard about the meaning, literal and abstract, of Jesus using mud to heal a man’s blindness. I don’t understand His messy ways in my life either. I have tried, and I’m sure I will continue to try. But when the dust settles, I think the greatest truth comes from the mouth of one simple man who was born blind… “I don’t know. One thing I do know – I was blind, but now I see!”

What long hard road are you on?

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Do you feel the heat of the stares of those around you? Does the mud sting your eyes and confuse your senses?  Please don’t stop on the way to your healing! Listen – it’s His voice, saying “walk on, my friend. Walk on.”

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16

Posted in Living this Life

I don’t understand…

He just couldn’t understand why. This boy with curly blonde hair and big blue eyes, looking at me so quizzically. And I’m glad he couldn’t.

This 7 year old boy who loves Jesus with all his heart and has no limitations to his expectations of who Jesus is and what He can do.

It was just a normal morning. We were doing our regular reading routine this morning, the 3 kids and me. All of us a little sleepy and groggy, trying to wake up enough to start our day.

The reading we came to in our “Mini and Maxi devotions” was Luke 5. Peter and his friends had been fishing all night, without catching a thing. They come in to shore, and Jesus ends up using their boat as a makeshift pulpit. Then comes the miracle of a boatload of fish when Peter least expects it, followed by Peter’s well known response: “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8)

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Maybe I’ve read this story too many times. Maybe I just know too well that feeling of being soiled and not wanting to be too close to Jesus in my shame. But as I read these words, I didn’t expect to see my Joshua’s face contort in utter confusion.  “I don’t understand”, he said. So I tried to explain.

I asked him if he’s ever felt like he’s not good enough to be near Jesus. If he’d ever messed up so much that he felt too ashamed to come close to Jesus. As I talked, my overly expressive boy’s face changed from confusion to shock and horror. All he could say was, “but WHY?! Why wouldn’t you want to be with Jesus?!”

I’ve heard numerous sermons and explanations of that moment when Jesus said the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to “such as these”. And here in front of my bleary morning eyes was this verse being lived out in front of me. Because on one hand, I know that when we compare ourselves to the great glory of God, we find ourselves, like Job, saying “My ears had heard of youbut now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myselfand repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42)  And I believe this is what is happening in Peter’s heart in this moment.

But in comes crashing the beautiful paradox. Because, my friend! This also is true. And I believe this may be what was happening in Jesus’ heart in this moment.  That beyond the reality of who we are compared to Him, He longs for us to come close and just be with Him.

In our filth.

In our emptiness.

In our shame.

I hear the words of Romans 8 ring loud in my heart – “ For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And I see Him stooped low, casting off His crown for a manger, so that I can draw close to Him.

I see Him in agony on a cross, so that I can be made clean.

I see Him in all His glory beside God the Father interceding still on our behalf! (Romans 8:34)

And yet how many times have I hidden from Him because of my sin? How many times has my heart reeled with words like Peter’s “Go away from me – I am a sinner?”

As I hear His  words still ringing in the air, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Mt 11:29) Did you hear that?!

AND YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOUL!

Oh how I long to be nestled in.

To come to Jesus with a heart as simple and clear as my Joshua’s – with no worry or doubt, just trust.

So come! Let’s not spend another day pushing back the One who gave it all to be close to you. His Promises are sure, His Arms are secure, His Words are true.

It’s time to start really believing them.

Jesus

Posted in Living this Life

The God who sees

So there’s this bracelet …

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But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up.

It was a hard week, last week. A few days ago, we got some news that shook me.

More than how this specific situation affected our lives, the news started a wave of emotions that seemed beyond my control. I was having a nuclear moment in my soul and I couldn’t make it stop.

The enemy of our souls will latch on to any opportunity to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10) And this was the moment he grasped.

I was consumed with emotions. I felt anger. I felt confused. I felt frustrated. I felt hopeless. I felt darkness. Every morning, for these few days, I would wake up consumed by these feelings. And let’s be honest – that’s all I’ve described so far is feelings. We all know feelings can lie. So I did the only thing I know to do when feelings rage out of control – cling to the One who is always in control. The Word of my God and His promises.”From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Ps 61:2)

And when I turned to His Word, these are the promises I read, that stood as a strong tower over my heart: “For this is our God, forever and ever. He will be our guide even to death… LORD, YOU are the portion of my inheritance and my cup… He restores my soul… my flesh and my heart may fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever… Our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name… The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of your hands… Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace … He who calls you is faithful and He will do it… Be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (Ps 48:14; Ps 16:5; Ps 23:3; Ps 73:26; Ps 33:21; Ps 138:8; 2 Pet 3:14; 1 Thess 5:24; James 5:8

Though these words didn’t stop the onslaught of feelings that were combating the truth of these beautiful promises from God, I clung to them nonetheless – and I prayed. I asked God to intervene. To help me find my way back to peace and joy.  And in my moments of despair, I asked Him for some tangible expression of His presence in this mess. It was a simple plea from a hurting heart.

Now, my friend, hear the rest of this story…

Because I have this friend. I hadn’t seen her in a couple weeks nor talked with her over that time, so she knew nothing of my situation. This friend walked up to me just a couple days after this desperate prayer and said she had something for me. She said she thought I would understand. And she gave me a bracelet.

And here is where this story takes my breath away. Two weeks earlier – long before I had hit this wall, while my days were humming along as normal – she had sensed God whisper in her ear that she was to give this to me. She hadn’t seen me since then, and so at her first opportunity, she was obedient to the nudge of the Holy Spirit. Two weeks before I would ask God for a tangible expression of His presence with me, He had already answered my prayer! He had prepared the heart of my friend, He had whispered to her heart, and His gift to me came through her beautiful hands.

This gift came to me on the exact day my heart was hurting the most. And God doesn’t miss the details – most bracelets don’t fit me well – they are just too loose, too big. This one hugs my arm like it was made for me. And to top it off, this bracelet was hand crafted in Africa – where I was born!

Friend, do you hear it in the wind? That still small voice echoing clearly through the storm? Saying “I see you. I know what you’re walking through. And I care.”

This isn’t just my story. It’s all of ours. Maybe like me, you’ve walked down long, dark roads. Maybe you have felt despair when the heavens have been silent. Maybe, along with me, you have found the faithfulness of God in those silent places.  But then sometimes when the storms are spinning in our souls, His voice breaks through in a gentle whisper.

Sometimes God chooses to capture the smaller moments when we least expect Him to show up. And in those moments He displays a beautiful truth – that He is with us. That He sees. That He truly does catch each tear in a bottle and hold it close. (Ps 58:8) He promises that when we walk through the fire, He will be with us. That the waters will not overpower us. (Is 43:2) And to be honest, that’s all I really need. Not answers to my many questions. Not a “fixing” of all my problems. Just His presence, here with me know, telling me that He sees.

So as I see that bracelet on my wrist tonight, I catch my breath. And in Him, I rest.

Posted in Living this Life

Kisses for Jesus

I hesitate to even write this, sitting here in the middle of December, my mind spinning with everything I have to do. Let’s be honest – which of us has the time to even read one more thing? These are the days when our calendars are full, our to do list is full, but somehow it feels like our hearts can be a bit hollow. I saw a friend last night for a brief 3 minutes, and as she was telling me about all the activities she is involved in, she said, “why are we even doing all this?”

My mind flew back 10 years. To when my sweet girl was just one – truly celebrating her first Christmas. And this: charissa kissing Jesus

She loved her Nativity. She wouldn’t go to bed until she had kissed Jesus goodnight. Every  single night. I put a few different Nativities throughout the house every year, and that year, I found myself re-arranging them often. Until I figured out what was going on. They were getting arranged Charissa’s way. With everyone’s backs to the room, all the wise men and shepherds in a clump – you couldn’t really see the Nativity. Then I looked closer, and realized that they were as they really should be – all gathered tight around the manger and baby Jesus.

At the age of one, she got what most of us miss.

 

We are those people who pull out our Christmas decorations the day after Halloween. Christmas music is on, candles are burning, I have 3 Christmas trees (one has a Muppet as a tree topper, so I’m not sure that counts), and all the necessary blow up figures on my lawn. We love to celebrate this time of year – for the fun and the family,  especially for the opportunity it gives us to pull back and really celebrate Jesus. The tragedy of it all is that somewhere amidst the wrapping paper and the noise, Jesus gets a little lost.

And so I buy more devotionals. We do our Jesse tree with the kids every night. I even make sure to eat a piece of chocolate from my chocolate Advent calendar every day (or two or three, depending on how the day goes…)! I study the meanings of what happened when Jesus was born, I read commentaries – I dig because I want to know more, to understand more.

But this year, Jesus keeps whispering to my heart – “just come away and be with me

There is great value to understanding. I’m not encouraging setting the books aside – God often speaks to me through greater knowledge. But have we lost those quiet moments where we just worship? Just sit in silence and listen for His still small voice?

 

 

 

My sweet Charissa lived a parable for me years ago that will never leave me. I love all the joys and festivities of this season, but as we celebrate, as we wrap gifts and listen to Christmas music, and even while we’re doing our last minute shopping, let us breathe a little deeper, move a little slower. As we sit in traffic – again – let us lift our eyes from the red lights in front of us and let the glory of God all around us sink in. Listen for the song of a bird, look for the rainbow glint of sun off the snow. And tonight, for just a few minutes, try turning off the tv and the bright lights overhead and let the gentle glow of the Christmas tree warm your heart. May we all be a little more like the wise men in Charissa’s Nativity – less worried about what’s “out there” and more turned in, hearts in a beautiful clump around Jesus.

Oh come, let us adore Him!

Posted in Living this Life

Normal

It’s been about 6 months since my life has seen much “normal”. In the midst of unexpected life situations at home, we have found ourselves travelling with our family more than we usually do. We have crossed through 28 states and through 12,000 miles since the end of June, and suddenly I find myself at home again, trying to return to some sort of routine.

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I have to admit – for all the joy and discovery I find as we travel, it leaves me feeling a bit untethered.

It’s been just long enough for me to kind of forget what “normal” is. Long enough for the edges of my days to feel a bit frayed.

I begin my days unsure of what to expect. And I end my days not knowing if I’ve accomplished what I was “supposed” to do.

I’m sure you can relate? It happens to all of us – these days of unpredictability and inconsistency.

It’s an unsettling kind of feeling, isn’t it? Because most of us like our parameters. We like to believe we have some sort of control over our days. It gives us direction, helps with discipline, and isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Life is so much simpler when lived by rules – it is manageable. But what do we do when it is suddenly taken away?

I didn’t know I was doing it, but lately I found that I have been sub-consciously waiting for this season to end. I told myself I would start to work out again when life was “normal”. I would find time for more “planned” romance in my marriage when our schedule got organized again. I could excuse being impatient with my family because the uncertainty of my days caused an undercurrent of stress in my spirit. I would start memorizing Scripture when I could do it in a more consistent way.

I was putting life on hold, waiting for the right time to start living it.

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We often fall into this storybook mindset of what “normal” should be, and though we all seem to define it somewhat differently, it makes us feel safe. So when the unexpected happens, we are often left undone.

So I wonder? What happens when we flip this notion that life needs to follow our pre-ordained pattern? What does the Bible say about how we pattern our lives? “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps 90:2)

“Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.”  Prov 27:1

“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes.” (James 4:13-16)

I find myself wincing a little at James here. Please don’t tell me my beloved schedule is an arrogant scheme! I have never thought of my plans as boasting, but when we make our schedule into our god, this is our downfall. And I think this is James’ point – our calendar and our plans, are not organically bad or arrogant, but they must always be held with open fingers, fully submitted to the will and direction of God.

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So here I go, stating the obvious. We live our lives in a frenzied rush, waiting for a return to “normal”, when the reality is, we have no guarantee of anything beyond today. This moment is what we have been given by God, so how am I going to live it well in the situation I currently find myself in?

What if, in the midst of our routines, we insert those key few words that James suggests – “If it is the Lord’s will”. For all our plans, all our lofty dreams, are simply a part of a greater plan being worked out by our God. I wonder how many moments God has planned for us that we miss because we are following our own simple idea of how this day should go? I am not against schedules and routines – but I don’t want to be bound by them. Let’s shake off the shackles of our own expectations and awaken to the wonder of God’s greater plan.

So as we go about our “normal” days – sitting in traffic, working at the office, conducting a meeting, flying across the country, or washing that 10th load of laundry, let’s remember that “When our [plans] are interrupted, His are not. His plans are proceeding exactly as scheduled, moving us always (including those minutes or hours or years which seem most useless or wasted or unendurable) “toward the goal of true maturity” (Rom 12:2 JBP).” – Elisabeth Eliott.

Posted in Living this Life

The scent of a flower we have not found

I had that dream again. It’s never the same, but the location is. I guess some places are so tied to our emotions in a visceral way that we can’t shake ourselves free of them.

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In my dream, I’m back in Amsterdam … I don’t remember all the details, but I always wake up with that aching sense of homesickness. I call it homesickness – I think the proper word might be nostalgia. Bittersweet nostalgia – pulled to the surface by the adventures we’ve had these past weeks.

Over the last week, I have walked down trails of remembrance with my family. It started at the ocean. Walking down the boards, my husband told us stories of when he was younger and the memories carved into that beach. We re-lived his memories and made new ones along the way.

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We worshiped at the church he grew up in, hugged and kissed faces that had watched him become the man he is today. We saw old schools, drove by old banks and post offices, and ate way too much pizza. We drove by the beach where he learned to swim, and saw the brick steps of his old house, where a 6 year old Brad sat with his mom and asked Jesus to be Lord of his life.

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It was beautiful and fun. I love hearing the stories that come when we are in these special kind of places. And yet in the quiet moments, I found myself feeling an ache creep across my soul.

An ache for my own memories. My dreams bring me back to Amsterdam, but there are other places. Ones that pull at my heart even stronger. They live on only in my mind … changed forever by the ravages of war. Places I haven’t seen since I was 14 – places I can never return to.

me and monkeyThere are foods I try to describe to my children, but the words don’t exist to really capture the sense. It would be impossible to find a way for someone to feel the sticky wet air of Africa, the smells that fill your senses, the noises that are so rich – and yet it’s all so different. Sometimes I wonder if my memories are accurate – it’s been so long. How my heart longs to walk those red dirt roads one more time, to experience the wild cacophony and colors of the Liberian marketplace!

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Nostalgia is a strange beast. It seems to always be there, waiting for the right trigger to explode in your heart. But like an itch you can’t reach, it’s an ache that can’t be filled. So what do we do with these strange longings that surface and call our hearts to other times and places?

I wonder if this is what Ecclesiastes 3:11 means when it says that God has “set eternity in the heart of man”. One version says He has planted eternity in our hearts – like a seed that grows ever bigger, beckoning us to another time and place. We think it’s a longing for the past, when in reality it’s a longing for our future home. Our longing for heaven, for that one good that will never end, is wrapped up in these exquisite remembrances, carrying so much joy and pain in the same breath.

In 1 Chronicles we read that our days on earth are like a shadow – A shadow is but a distorted reflection of what is real. We are filled with this sense that this life is all so fleeting, but someday we will live in what is real and will never be lost. And so we call it names like nostalgia, and we long for the “good old days” when life was simpler.

C. S. Lewis puts it so much better, of course. “Apparently,” he says, “our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation. And to be at last summoned inside would be both glory and honour beyond all our merits and also the healing of that old ache.”

Keep reading! He says, “In speaking of this desire for our own faroff country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves… If [we go] back to those moments in the past, [we] would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what [we] remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering… These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”

When the pangs hit my heart, I think of what is to come. And I marvel that when Jesus said He was going to prepare a place for us, He meant it – a home that will never end, a safety that cannot be taken from us, an eternity that won’t rust or fade.

It leaves me hungry for heaven. How about you?