Remember the Lord, though you are in a far-off land, and think about your home in Jerusalem. (Jeremiah 51:50)
Relate: It isn’t the holidays that get to me. At least, I don’t think it is. I haven’t actually been living as an expat in a Muslim nation around Christmas time so I don’t honestly know how that will get to me. I do miss some face to face connections. There are some people I would love to be able to sit around a table at TGI Fridays or perhaps Cracker Barrel and just hang out. But that isn’t really what gets to me.
Know what gets to me? It is drinking a hot caramel apple spiced cider from Barnes and Nobles after a hard day at work. It is being able to watch all the trees turn from green to gold, red, and a rusty brown. I love the view from my porch. I love being able to watch the sunrise over the hill on the far side of the valley (although it is now rising late enough in the day I am already long gone from my house when it does). But my mountain and the valley below are full of green and the red of tiled roofs with the occasional minaret breaking the horizon. The only thing that has changed is the amount of cloud color and precipitation. I love Istanbul, but there are moments when I long for NY.
React: As much as I do my best to enculturate with the community around me, I am still in many ways an outsider. As much as I try to learn the language and the mannerisms and the habits of the very king and loving and generous Turkish people, I am still only part way in this world. I am beginning to think that will always be the case. I am not the biggest fan of America and American culture, but there are some good things from it that I want to hold on to. On the flip side, there is much from my adopted home that I love and want to learn to add to my nature and mindsets and attitude, but there are some other things… If I had my druthers, I would adopt only the best of both worlds. But if I do that, I will never truly belong in either.
I am beginning to understand how the exiled Jews must have felt. They were given a directive from God to built homes, set up shop, and seek the benefit of the land in which they were carried off to. But at the same time, they carried a part of Jerusalem with them. No matter where the Diaspora went, they never truly fit in with their neighbors. This is a good thing. There was a distinctiveness they needed to maintain. They were God’s set apart people. As is the church. Are we living with a foot in both worlds? If not, why not? I am a citizen of America but a resident of Turkey. The Hebrews were scattered in the world and yet set apart from it. The church are residents here on earth but citizens of heaven. How often do our minds return to that far off land?
God, help me to never forget that although I am a resident here on earth, I am a citizen of heaven. I ask that when I get too bogged down in the mundane aspects of this life, that You would lift my vision skyward. And when I get too homesick for that home You are building give me a deeper love and passion for my neighbor. For Your glory, help me to live with a foot, and a heart, in both worlds.