This World Is Not My Home

This is Broadway Avenue in Sterling, decorated with holiday lights. I took this picture late Christmas night, 2010.

When I was a teenager I read a short story titled “The Man without a Country,” and I’ve never forgotten it. In it a young lieutenant in the U.S. Army becomes friends with the traitor Aaron Burr (the story is set in the early 1800s) and supports his cause. Put on trial for treason, the lieutenant says, “I hate the United States. I wish I may never hear of her again.” His judge makes that his sentence. The lieutenant is put on board a ship, is never allowed to set foot on U.S. soil, and is not allowed to ever hear any news of the United States. He becomes a “man without a country.” His sense of loss grows the older he gets, and he hates the choice he made as a young man.
As teachers, Dave’s and my lives have always been ordered by the school year, and in every move made in the past, we’ve known by March, usually before, that we would be moving in the summer. With those decisions, there was always a longer term of separation, a sense of still being a part of life in the present place until the actual move occurred. That has not been the case in this decision to return to Chicago. I finished teaching my class at the College less than a week after the decision. Dave was officially finished with coaching only two weeks after that. The students and soccer players left; our kids finished school; and our church and college friends moved into that natural gap between the hectic end of school and the slower pace of summer, when people take a break and you just don’t see each other much. It’s made me feel very disconnected, “a woman without a town.”
It’s also reminded me of the lessons God has taught me, over and over, through our moves, that I don’t really belong in one particular place, that the pursuit of happiness and comfort is a short-sighted goal, and my gaze should be stretching into eternity. It’s hard to grasp these truths in my Western, comfort-centered world and life, no matter how hard I fight against the materialism and the this-world focus, but in times of transition I “get” it more, and I understand the heaven-focused gaze of many of the African brothers and sisters I have met, of believers in persecution or hardship. I’ve been singing the spiritual “This World Is Not My Home” to help me remember and identify with this heaven-set perspective.
This world is not my home I’m just passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

Oh Lord, you know I have no friend like you
If heaven’s not my home then Lord what will I do
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

They’re all expecting me and that’s one thing I know
My Savior pardoned me and now I onward go
I know he’ll take me through though I am weak and poor
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

I don’t like the “not at home” feeling I have right now, but I believe it might be exactly what God wants for me, if only to remind me of the truths of this song.
I have no friend like You, Lord, and my home—present and future—is in You. My lonely soul can abide there.

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