This is my 17th move: Stratford, NJ [where I was born]; Radford VA; Manchester, England; Williamstown, NJ; Spring, TX; Westfield, NJ; Reston, VA; Taylors, SC [my first apartment and beginnings of my moves as an adult]; New Castle, IN [first apartment after Sara and I got married]; Philadelphia, PA [three moves here--Bensalem, Yardley, and Abington, PA]; Louisville, KY [two moves here--Crestwood and Bedford]; St. Louis, MO [two moves here--St. Charles and Creve Coeur]; and now Hattiesburg, MS.
It is interesting to reflect on this whole process of moving--saying goodbye, seeing bookends to your time, packing up, throwing away, loading and unloading, saying hello, settling in, hoping people like you and you find friends. It is hugely unsettling and yet it is also very exciting. Incredibly stressful and yet a bit boring. Hurrying up, yet waiting.
There is a sense in which my Christian life has reflected this rootlessness, homelessness; one of my favorite texts is Hebrews 11:13-16: "These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city."
I think more than most people, I have had this sense of being a stranger, an exile--not quite fitting in, always being the "new kid," never sure if I'll be accepted by the host culture. I have also had this sense there is a home that will never falter or fade, a better city from which I'll never leave because I will always feel at home.
Our prayer is that our new place will give us echoes of home, but that it will never really be home--because there remains a rest for the people of God, a place of final and full welcome, love, and joy. I want the mansions prepared for me by the Father because that is where Jesus is--everything here is an echo, a shadow, a penultimate something that points to the ultimate reality.