“It’s just like nothing ever happened,” Tabitha beamed at me, as we sat in church, listening to Papa teach from First Corinthians eleven. “Like you’ve never been away.” I returned her smile, but I could hardly echo her sentiments. I haven’t slimmed up like Caleb or shot up like Ezra or filled out like Lydia, but something’s different. Sitting next to her on cold, grew folding chairs in the Longan’s living room, singing harmonies at the top of our lungs, pointing out scriptures that come to mind as the men teach doesn’t erase the past months. My heart says it’s not like I’ve never been away. It’s like I’ve been away for years. Bethany clung to me and the rest of the children crowded around, eager to touch me, to ask me questions, to show me new things. It’s been so long since I was overwhelmed by children. In a whirlwind, we flash through pictures, watch silly military videos, give a million hugs and bustle back into the suburban for the long trip home. Home, as in, Arkansas.
Arkansas is not my home.
Neither is Kansas.
The Israelites, on the other hand, reached their home. Parceled out and detailed, the inheritance of the sons of Israel was delivered, as Yahweh had promised. Not one of the good promises which Yahweh had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass. The book of Joshua is a vastly triumphant book—a book of overcoming through Yahweh’s power. As an old man, Joshua calls together the twelve tribes and reminds them of God’s working in their history, from the day He called Abram out of his “home” and promised the land to his descendants forever. “Look at what God has done for you,” Joshua said, waving his hand over fields, vineyards, cities and olive groves. “This is what God has given you. If it’s disagreeable in your eyes to serve Yahweh, choose for yourselves whom you will serve. You can serve the gods of the people Yahweh drove out before you. But as for me and my house, we’re going to serve Yahweh.” Collectively, the people answered, “We’ll serve Yahweh!” “Ah,” Joshua reminded them. “Yahweh is jealous. Remember, He’s hard to serve—if you forsake Him He will have to discipline you.” Again the people responded, “We will serve Yahweh!” Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves. You have chosen Yahweh! Therefore cast away your idols and turn your hearts toward Yahweh.” A third time the people affirmed Yahweh their God. And they did, all the days of Yahweh, and all the days of the elders who survived him. Joshua knew the importance of spelling out the choice—Yahweh and blessing or the idols who cannot save. He knew the importance of seeking a public commitment. And he knew the value of setting up a visible witness, a pile of stones, to remind them every time they saw it, of the commitment they had made to Yahweh, to serve Him only. It’s easy for me to think in my heart, “I will serve the Lord.” But to open my mouth, to acknowledge that I understand how hard it may be, that I understand that Yahweh is jealous for my attention, which He deserves, that I intend to seek Him first and His righteousness confirms to me and to the world, that I have chosen Yahweh. It reminds me where my home is.
When Mr. T asked me today if I was settled in, I hesitated. Settled in to what? A new groove that I’ve built to hedge me into monotony? Sometimes I become too settled, too complacent, too comfortable. Safe. Afraid to take down camp and move, stretch my boundaries, do something new. Afraid that change might be looming at me like a dark thunderhead on the horizon—but is that cloud rain, or sleet or locusts? Why should I avoid change? Each new change the Lord has brought my way has only given me more room to grow, more reason to stretch down my roots for the living water. It seems the Lord has had change on my mind lately, perhaps as I see what Yahweh has done so far, and I look ahead to things that are already changing, wondering what comes next. Fearing what comes next, as if my Lord would lead me into a way He does not also tread.
Lord! Prevent me from ever resisting change, from ever becoming so comfortable in my own way that I lie stagnant and quit growing. Prune me that I grow stronger, taller and bear more fruit!
Never let me feel entirely “at home”—until I am with You.
Lord, this world is not my home,
So I may be content to roam,
Without belonging here or there
As long as I may have Thee near.
May all my interest always be
Invested in eternity
That when I climb up Jacob’s stair
I’ll find the mansion Thou prepared.