“There’s no place like home.” – Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz
I’ve never been a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz, but that statement has always run true for me. I’ve been a homebody all my life. There is something about home. Here I mean more the feeling, the sense of security and belonging, of home than a physical house.
Over the past four months, my idea of home, security, and belonging has shifted. To help process it all, I’ve been compiling a Spotify playlist which acknowledges one or more of the myriad of emotions that I’ve been struggling with. One of those is “Lost at Sea” by Jimmy Needham. There’s one line in particular that I belt out with him.
(The whole verse is so good, I’m going to quote all of it.)
Ride the wave, wave goodbye, by the way did I mention today
That I don’t know the way home
So could you take me by the hand and lead me to the dryer land
So I can finally breathe again instead of sinking like a stone
And now I will diligently and not religiously but affectionately come
Before the throne of your grace in this place and seek your face
For all eternity and then some
One of my more recent posts was about the process of pruning that sometimes happens in our lives. In the last month, in particular, I have felt that a more accurate description of my life right now would be being uprooted.
Or being uprooted and pruned at the same time.
(I take great pleasure and pride in my ability to be melodramatic.)
As I’ve been trying to settle into my new normal, the idea of putting down roots has been often been on my mind. I think the typical process involves becoming sure in your place, joining a community, and impacting your sphere of influence. For me, I have been realizing the need to put down roots in something more stable and lasting than any of those things.
I need to be rooted in Jesus.
The cynic in me shouts that that is not as simple as typing seven relatively short words.
It’s not. But I believe that it is the only hope I have in this world and the next.
What does it look like to be rooted in Jesus? For me, it is the cross and the empty tomb. Two years ago, when my mentor killed herself, I nearly gave up on following God, but Jesus kept putting the cross in my way.
One of my many struggles as a Christian has been the issue of God’s sovereignty in the face of evil and suffering. I like to describe my relationship to Jesus as a wrestling match because I feel like I am always fighting for the right to run my life my way.
When my friend died, I could not understand how God could abandon her to such a dark place when He said He loved her.
God never really answered that question. Instead, He pointed me to the Cross.
If anyone has been uprooted, it was Jesus. God became man, transplanted from the glories and splendor of heaven to the squalor of grief of earth. God the Son came to bring restoration to the world. The cost of restoration was His death.
On the cross, an innocent man hung in a criminal’s place. More than that, Emmanuel, God with us, died in my place, taking the punishment of my sins.
It is a horrific scene, an evil scene, an unjust scene, a scene that has Jesus calling out “My God, my God, why did you abandon Me?”
(If anyone had the right to ask God the Father that question, it was His Son.)
But the cross is also a beautiful scene, a scene of love, the place where mercy and justice kiss, a scene that allows God to pull us in His embrace.
That moment in history is one of the greatest clashes of all time. Horror and beauty. Evil and love. Justice and mercy.
And God ordained it all. He ordained it so that He could rescue me.
I wish that truth impacted me more emotionally. Maybe I’m too tired. Maybe I’m still struggling too much with believing in His goodness. But regardless of my emotions, the cross keeps me clinging to Jesus, allowing Him to take me along life’s journey (or even carry or straight up drag me at times.)
If the Trinity had devised a means of saving humanity that did not weave together the allowance of evil and the victory of love, I don’t know if I could even attempt to trust Jesus.
As I look to Good Friday and think about how Jesus was uprooted for me, as I get overwhelmed by the waves that crash around me, as I feel lost and uncertain of where I belong, I take a deep breath and pray “Jesus, restorer of my soul, help me to find my home in You.”
I’ve lost a lot in the last four months. But not as much as Jesus gave up to be able to “prepare a home” for me. Why did God need to make me feel like I was “Lost at Sea”? Only He knows, but I am striving to believe that no matter how dark the situation seems, love is in, underneath, and around all of it.
Some of it is a matter of perspective. Some of it is a matter of trusting that no matter what God might take away from me in this life, I will always have my home in Jesus, and everything else is inconsequential compared to the “surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”.
Is it easy to believe and trust? I really wish I could say, but that would be a lie. I think sometimes, Christians feel like we have to make it seem like being a Christian is a breeze, but it’s not. At least not in my experience. Paul the apostle compared it to a race, a fight, a war.
I like to compare it to a wrestling match.
One that I know Jesus will win. Because he loves me, even when I don’t love Him. Because He died and rose again and is coming back for me one day to take me Home.