Even when life is good, during seasons when all seems right with the world, I sometimes still experience unnamed longings. They are deep, elusive feelings, as if there is something that I know I need but is not within reach. When I sit with them, I come to understand that these longings are not for something physical, some material thing I lack. Nor are they longings for something from another person, such as love or acceptance. I believe I am longing for a somewhere.
I am an extremely curious individual, and, ever since I was a little girl, have always wondered what’s over the next hill. In all my travels, I’ve been to many beautiful places and have seen a lot of “must see” things that had been glowingly described in my pre-trip research. But I’ve yet to find the perfection that completely lives up to my expectations.
I pictured Rome’s Trevi Fountain as being out in a lovely bucolic setting, but found it confined between closely huddled ancient buildings on a narrow pedestrian street in the middle of the busy city full of the buzzing sound of Vespas speeding by.
I remember the first time I saw DaVinci’s masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, after years of anticipation from my art history studies. I was so surprised that she is a relatively small painting, when in my mind’s eye she should be a lot bigger, and she was displayed well behind a rail and a thick sheet of protective glass. The experience was somewhat, well, dissatisfying. Some of Europe’s most famous well-preserved historic villages I’ve looked forward to visiting came with tacky souvenir kiosks and were often overrun by tourists, somewhat tarnishing the pristine places shown in travel sites’ photography.
I’ve come to realize that I’m longing for something this world cannot give me, that I’m a soul yearning for where I truly belong. I am longing for home.
Madeleine L’Engle, in The Rock That is Higher, says, “We’re all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes.”
But Psalm 90:1-2 tells me,
Lord, through all the generations
you have been our home!
Before the mountains were born,
before you gave birth to the earth and the world,
from beginning to end, you are God.
As a believer, I am not completely at home here. I’m a pilgrim just passing through. The Bible calls me a sojourner, an exile, and tells me that my citizenship is in heaven. Hebrews 13:14 says, “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” I have been created for a different place.
I know my true home is with God. The temporary longings of my soul can only be satisfied in him. He is my eternal shelter—now, and in the life to come when I arrive, finally fulfilled, in the place he’s preparing for me—my perfect home, that will never disappoint.
God of glory, God of wonder, God of beauty
You reign through all eternity
Before the mountains
Or the earth had been formed
You were our everlasting Lord
You’ve been our home
You’ve been our shelter safe
For young and old
To generations past
We stand in awe of a God so great
We stand in thanks for your faithfulness
O Lord, you’ve been our dwelling place