1.1 Not Home Yet
Dear reader, I don’t know you, but there is one thing I know about you. Your life is hard.
The first thing I noticed about my wife when I met her was that she was a completely different.
See, I am a hawk. I grew up in the high arid plains of Colorado. It’s a land of horizons and majestic mountains. It’s a place of granite, blushing red dirt, and wind. Hawks value freedom, independence, and the opportunity to make something of ourselves by ourselves. Hawks roost high up in the sun-baked cliffs, and love the dry wind that lifts us on our majestic wings.
Liv, however, is a frog. She grew up in the swampy North East. For her, “home” means squishing mud between her bare toes, the smell of moss, and long days of swimming in the pond near her house. Frogs value close spaces and close relationships. They value tasty food, and above all, staying wet. Hawks do not like getting their feathers drippy.
The day after we got married, I packed my moist little frog bride into the front seat of a yellow moving van and drove her to… drumroll please… Texas. And then, after many years of sojourning all over the west, I moved her back to my home in the high desert of Colorado.
Liv has never really felt at home anywhere we’ve lived. The landscape has been foreign, the people strange, the expectations unclear. Since the day we got married, she has always been a frog out of water. (Literally? Figuratively? I’m not sure anymore).
As a Hawk I’ve always loved her, but rarely understood her. So, she has often felt alone.
And here’s the point. All of us feel the same way.
Dear reader, I don’t know you, but there is one thing I know about you. Your life is hard. You have suffered and are suffering. You have loved and lost. You have suffered sickness and financial distress. You have been hurt and you have hurt others. You are tired. And above all, you are lonely.
I know this because you are human. And you live in a world that doesn’t feel like a home for humans.
Like frogs living in a desert, we all suffer from constant thirst. I instinctively feel there must be something more to life. More joy, more safety, more significance, more friends, more help. But those things are hard to find in a desert. I feel I should be living in a place of abundance. A place with water everywhere. But I live in a land of scarcity. My throat is always parched, my skin dry and leathery. Do you feel the same?
Some of us have tried to adapt. We’ve tried to find comfort or solace in the dirty pleasures of this wasteland pretending to be lizards with hard protective scales. Some of us have tried to ignore reality. We pretend that puddles are as good as lakes, or look for ways to distract ourselves from what’s really going on. Others have just given up hope.
And we all feel alone. Where are my froggy friends? My brothers and sisters who love to swim and play? Why is it so hard to connect? Why do I always feel like I’m the one who doesn’t “get it” or that I’m the one that no one really gets?
Let me speak plainly for a moment. We humans were born in a garden. A place of abundance and life. And we were meant to live in a garden city. A place with good work to do and good friends to do it with. Our deepest instincts tell us this is true. But that’s not this world. At least, not yet.
We are all travelers in this wilderness. Sojourners in a strange land. Or, in the words of the Apostle Peter, “exiles dispersed abroad” (1 Peter 1:1). At the same time we are also, “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient and to be sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ.”
So we are wanderers but not lost. Exiles, but not without a promised land. Lost children, but not orphans. Pilots who have crashed behind enemy lines, but the Marines are on the way.
We are homeless, but not truly without a home, we’re just not home yet.
This is the encouraging message of this book. For now, you and I are frogs out of water, but there is water! Real water. Abundant water. Living water. And our arrival there is guaranteed by the power of God the Father, the love of God the Holy Spirit, and the death and resurrection of God the Son. So, even if we must suffer for a while here in this strange land, we do not need to suffer without hope!
God, my good Father, has seen my struggle and has had compassion on me. Because of his compassion he has promised to rescue me, to raise me from the dead and make me a co-heir with Christ. This world will be re-made and I will be home. The image is not that I need to struggle to get home, but that home is finding me. It’s just a matter of God’s time until it gets here. Then everywhere will be home.
That truth has a way of changing my attitude toward life. For sure, things are hard. Some things are really hard. And some things are unbearably hard. I don’t want to minimize or ignore just how truly horrible and awful and evil people and things can be in this world. Truly I don’t. There are no words to describe just how bad things can get.
And yet… I do want to give even people in the worst of the worst situations hope. All evil is temporary. Whether in this life or the next it will stop and be replaced with good. (And I share the cry with so many of you, “Please, dear God, let it be in this life!”) The pain will stop and be replaced with pleasure. The fear and anxiety will stop and be replaced with confidence. The loneliness will stop and be replaced with feasting and friends! Lord Jesus, come quickly!
So, that’s good news, but what about in the meantime? How do frogs live in the desert? How do humans live in an inhuman world?
Well, that’s what this book is about. It’s about finding froggy friends. It’s about finding—and creating—oases. It’s about connecting with God and finding direction.
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