As Scott and I lingered by the taxi waiting for the Toyota Corolla to fill with passengers so we could cross the border into South Sudan, we discussed our arrival to Nashville in two short weeks. The plans we had prayed over were still tentative and time was running out. Four adventurous years had passed since we made the decision to set aside our “normal” lives to whole-heartedly press into God’s kingdom. During that time we experienced life giving growth, freedom and amazing relationships, but it was also a season marked with sacrifices and challenges. I was bracing myself for yet another slew of well meaning friends and family living normal lives, firing questions at us about our plans for the future and the inevitable head shaking our tentative answers tended to bring.
As difficult as these conversations would be, even more difficult was the craving we were experiencing for a home and the desire to be settled. The faithless words came out of my mouth, “If living at this level of faith means we will always be wandering, homeless fools continually pressed to understand what God is saying and living on last minute direction while not being allowed any sense of certainty-then maybe I want to go back to my old, comfortable life.” Yep- I said that. Deflated, embarrassed, frustrated, lost, scared, fearful of what lay ahead- my feelings at the moment took over.
As soon as the words left my lips, a statuesque Ugandan man in a blue jump suit strolled up and greeted us with a beautiful smile. He apologized that he could not shake our hands because his were dirty. Introducing himself as John, he explained he was a mechanic – proof of that lay in the tools in his hand. “We are brother and sister in the Lord God Almighty”, he said to the sky. His brilliant face and the slight lingering of his gaze at the clouds caught my breath. “Do not fear. You are home here,” he directed distinctly to me with a gaze that permeated peace. With exuberant joy He blessed us and walked away. Strangely, Scott didn’t understand anything John said so I had to translate the entire interchange.
I sat down stunned as the weight of his message flooded over me. Burning with shame I replayed the faithless words I had just spoken. Had God just immediately ministered to my fainting heart? Did we just encounter an angel? Squatting in the dirt in the middle of that busy street, I pondered John’s statement, “You are home.” Was God telling us to move to Uganda? My brain began spinning with all the implications of that idea, then God’s peace descended and He reminded me of the truth I had been learning this entire season of journeying. Home is whenever and wherever I am in God’s presence. I am in His presence right now in the chaotic, dusty taxi queue. I will be in His presence in a few hours when I enter into South Sudan. Two weeks from now I will still be in His presence when I debark the plane and step back into my homeland but in a foreign city and with minimal direction. With Him, I am always home.
Was John an angel or just an obedient Ugandan brother? Either way, it does not change the fact that in my faithless moment, God spoke clearly to my heart and gently reminded me that He is close. My response to this amazing truth? I will not allow fear to rob me of the peace and joy I am meant to live in. God is with me, therefore I am home.