I was recently travelling by train through two countries, which meant a whole day of sitting on trains. There were many people coming and going on these trains, many people with whom you share space for a few minutes or hours, who you smile at or have some other kind of common courtesy interactions. But rarely do you talk more to the strangers around you, at least not in Europe.
On that particular journey, I met a man who originated from the African continent. It was only 8:30 in the morning, but his breath told me what he was drinking without having to glance at the bottle he was holding, and the influence that drink had on him was evident in the way he talked. When I asked him where he was going, he told me that he was going to another city to talk to the government about his home. Apparently, the government institutions were relocating him from one home to another and he wasn’t really sure where his home was now.
I don’t know the government system of that country and also don’t know the details of his situation. But in all the different bits and pieces of what he was telling me, he spoke about how he did not have a home and how this drink of his was getting him through the days and pain of being pushed from one place to another. In fact, that’s the one thing I really understood from all he was saying. The desperation of wanting to find a place he could call home–a place where he belonged–was what he kept talking about, all the while knowing that the drinks wouldn’t really drown the pain.
I don’t want to pretend to know what it feels like to have to leave your home and have your heart left behind, or what it feels like to be pushed from one place to the other, like this man, and so many others with him, experience. But I think many of us can in one way or another relate to the deep yearning of our hearts that longs for a home. Many of us know what it’s like to have our hearts in different places. Travelling or living in another country does that to us. Unsafe, insecure, or unnourishing situations do that to us. Sometimes we choose to leave, sometimes we have to leave.
There's this longing for a place that we can call home, a place where we belong. A sense of longing for something bigger, of a place where we belong, that comes from deep within our hearts. There is a common saying that says: “Home is where the heart is.” I love the beauty in that statement, and wish that for many people, this was the case.
But I cannot fully agree with it, because I feel this longing in my heart for something much more profound – a deep search for God. A book I recently read said: “The surprising truth is that God uses the emptiness that induces depression to drive us to Him. This in turn gives rise to greater joy, and to heavenly hope.” (Dan Allender)
Our hearts yearn for a home because we look for God. That yearning will only ultimately be satisfied on the day we join Him in His Home, because evil will always leave some part of our hearts unsatisfied. But knowing that it is God that we yearn for, we have the hope of one day arriving Home, and in the meantime, our brokenness will keep driving us to Him.
That great hope is what we are called to proclaim, why we do the work we do. Because we know Him, we can point people to what they are truly searching for, while trying to make them feel at home, make them feel like they belong, wherever they are, as much as possible.
Anja has previously been overseas but now works with OM Switzerland in her home country. She appreciates the variety of different things she gets to do in her work in public relations and always loves to learn new things.