I’ve lived in a lot of places. I was born in Australia, lived in China, Scotland; now in Wales. I’ve called a lot of places home but growing up I oftened struggled with ‘belonging’; not just in a typical-dorky-lost-teen kinda way but in a more practical sense. I felt like I didn’t have a very solid answer to the question: ‘where are you from?”
I was born in Australia, but I’ve lost almost all signs of my Australian accent. The people I meet when I go back to Australia often tell me I sound british, but here in the UK I’m continually being asked if I’m American.
I don’t know the national anthem of the country I was born in. I don’t watch cricket and I’m not a BBQ grillmaster. Frankly, if I even am an Australian any more (and I’m not convinced), I’m a pretty sorry excuse for an Australian.
So, let’s look to the other side of the family… am I Scottish? I guess maybe a little? A solid chunk of my childhood was spent there, I know the history, the geography… I love haggis and making fun of the English… I’m certainly Scottish-ish..?
But there’s still that pesky accent. Also, I don’t like Irn-bru, I don’t support a football team, and I can’t highland dance to save my life.
So… where am I from?
Where do I belong?
When I was 15 I wrestled with these questions and arrived at the conclusion that I didn’t belong anywhere; that anywhere I went I would always be a foreigner. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I remember going on a trip with my parents to a town called Elgin where my Dad was going to be a guest speaker in the church. During that service I had an encounter with God where I was crying out to God, “Where is my home? Why didn’t you give me a home?”
His response was almost audible to me and when I heard it I broke: “Heaven is your home.” I wept as the Father spoke into my identity. I felt whole.
I’m writing this sitting in Siloh Chapel. Siloh, in welsh, comes from the Hebrew name Shiloh which means ‘a place of peace’. It’s the place where the ark of the covenant was housed before returning to Jerusalem. It was the home of the psalmist who wrote: “better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.” (Psalm 84:10).
I wanted to share this story for anyone right now who is coming out of lockdown, or in a season of transition, who is casting about for a place of peace, of belonging; for home. Heaven, your Father’s domain, will always be home to you and can be a beautiful, sacred place for the returning if you ever need it. But, I also think this could be a picture of what our church community, as part of God’s kingdom on the earth, can look like.
This building can be a place of refuge, of peace. A home for people to return to.
Lockdown is drawing to a close… are you ready to come home?