Learning “To Feel At Home” In Jesus
If you are a Christian believer and a member of the military, then there are two unchangeable realities in your life. The first is “change” itself. Personal upheavals come again and again. You repeatedly feel yourself “uprooted” from one job or location, then replanted in another.
I recall a time when senior military leaders tried to assure military members – and particularly their families – that “predictability” would soon be the order of the day. But then the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 took place. Needless to say, “predictability” was never mentioned again. Unfortunately, change remains one unchangeable reality in the Christian soldier’s life.
Of course, recurring change is part of every Christian’s life, and it can be wearisome. Those who remain true to Jesus will always view the world around them as constantly changing – usually for the worse. Disciples of Jesus will never cease to be shocked by the continually shifting sand of morality around them. Things that were once considered evil, reprehensible and perverse are now celebrated in the culture that envelopes them. Many Christians who were taught to be patriotic, now feel that they live in a foreign country. More and more, this world is not their home.
But please understand this. God uses this kind of change – and all kinds of change – for a redemptive purpose in our lives.
Do you remember how the Israelites wandered in the wilderness? God deliberately implemented change in their lives. In fact, God forced a nomadic existence upon them. If you read Numbers 9:15-23, you’ll find that God frequently kept the Israelites on the move. They would set out and camp based on the movement of the pillar of cloud and fire, and that pillar rarely stayed in one place for long. The longest Israel remained anywhere was probably at Mount Sinai – and only for a year. For most of their wanderings, their stay was far shorter – sometimes only overnight.
We know from other Scriptures that Israel often traveled at night – either breaking camp before the sun rose or setting up after it had set. For the Scripture says that the pillar of fire at night would light the way before them as they traveled (Exodus 13:21).
Naturally, this repeated “uprooting and replanting” must have been a trial. Perhaps they were just getting used to one spot when God moved them to another. And some places didn’t require “getting used to,” for they were blessed with springs and date palm trees (e.g. Elim, Exodus 15:27). But whether Israel loved their location or not, God would move them on to the next encampment.
God did not do this to be cruel. No, God did it for their salvation and redemption. You see, God filled their lives with change in order to make them gravitate to the other unchangeable reality in their lives. This great “constant” manifested itself by the cloud of glory which hovered over them by day to be their shield from the sun. This is what the Scripture tells us. “The LORD is your shade at your right hand … the sun will not strike you by day” (Psalm 121:5-6). Moses stated that this cloud stood over them (Numbers 14:14), thus he would later write that God’s people literally “dwelt under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). Other biblical writers would attest to the fact that the pillar of cloud mushroomed into a protective umbrella for the Israelites (Nehemiah 9:12; Psalm 78:14; 105:39). It is no stretch to conclude that the pillar of fire by night not only illumined the way before them while they traveled. It also may have served as a climate-controlling force (perhaps providing warmth at night) wherever God led them.
The great constant in their lives also manifested itself through the daily provision of their needs. Near the end of their journey Moses testified that neither their clothes nor their sandals wore out during those forty years (Deuteronomy 29:5-6). Nor did the manna fail to appear on the ground each morning to feed them. No matter how many times their location changed, one thing never changed – their daily provision of food.
This other unchangeable reality in their lives further manifested itself in the faithful provision of water wherever they went. Though the “wilderness narratives” mention God miraculously providing water on only three occasions (Exodus 15:22-27; 17:7; Numbers 20:2-13), there must have been others. Paul stated that Israel “was drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them, and that rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4).
Yes, the Pre-incarnate Christ was the great constant in their lives. “I, the LORD, change not,” we read in Malachi 3:6. Jesus would always be with them as their constant companion, their faithful provider, and their unfailing shelter against all harm. The LORD who loved them, forgave them, and provided for them yesterday could be counted on to do the same today and forever.
God only allowed change in their lives so that Israel would cease to trust in their circumstances and learn to trust in Him. God didn’t want Israel to ever feel at home in the wilderness so that they would learn to feel at home in Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
So, if you are weary of all the upheaval and change in your life, be comforted with the knowledge that it is all for your redemption and salvation. If you grieve because you feel so out of place in this world, rejoice that God is making you more at home in your eternal habitation – the Lord Jesus Christ. Trust not in the world around you – for it’s all passing away (1 John 2:15-17). Learn instead to feel at home in Jesus. Learn to say, with Moses, “LORD, You have been our dwelling place through all generations” (Psalm 90:1).
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You have been my dwelling place throughout my pilgrim journey. There have been those times when I looked to this world for love, acceptance, and approval. But I’ve always been turned away disappointed and empty-hearted. Only when I rest in Your loving embrace do I find the peace and healing I long for. And, yes, I’ve tried in vain to build my little piece of heaven on this planet. But circumstances have cruelly crumbled and left my “dream world” in shambles. Yet it had to happen, O Lord, so that I would find my true and enduring heaven in You. O Lord, help me to trust in this world less and less and trust in You more and more. Let me feel at home in You, Lord Jesus, I pray. Amen.