It’s Sunday Afternoon.
I’ve just returned from scouting out the small, marshy peninsula that I live on, here on the East Coast. We’ve had an incredible amount of rain over the last several days, accompanied by wind. In fact, all night last night, I lay in bed and listened as tree limbs and branches cracked and landed on my roof. I’ll have to climb up there tomorrow and get them off.
High Tide is 30 minutes from now, and flooding has commenced. My house is fine—I live on higher spot of this lowland. But just one street from my house, the water is over the main road. And, between my house and my church, a huge tree has fallen–its roots no longer capable of finding purchase in the soggy ground–and has blocked a side road and is laying across a garage.
I had ridden out to the end of our main road and then waded in further, to the point, to try to convince one of my favorite senior adult widows to bring her dog and come stay at my house until the flood waters passed. She is stubborn, though, like me (that’s probably why I love her so much) and wouldn’t budge, and wouldn’t let me stay there with her until the danger passed. She didn’t have water in the house for hurricane Isabel, and she is in contact with her son, so I agreed to wade back out.
Of course, me, being me, with all of my gracefulness, and in my Sunday skirt, faceplanted into the water as I waded out. Nice. Soaked.
Stay with me here, though–there is a purpose to my rambling.
My heart aches for my neighbors this afternoon, as they face potential loss of property. Absolutely aches for them. And as I traveled back to my house, I looked at my fellow neighbors standing in their yards, talking together, surveying the situation, wading through water to check on each other.
And in those moments, this thought came to mind: This is my home.
And I am so grateful.
I’ve been here, a long time.
Longer than anywhere else I’ve ever lived; apart from Iowa.
And that is a strange feeling, to me, in both my mind and my soul.
I remember another, very similar storm, in another October, several years ago now.
We had flown here, from Hawaii, “in view of a call”. (For those not familiar with the phrase, it essentially means for a job interview.)
We flew hours and hours and hours, and upon arrival, discovered that my luggage had not arrived with me. And then, that same night, we attended Wednesday service, and then sat in an interview–for hours, until way past midnight–in the home of church members who live on the same point that I waded out to this afternoon.
It was such a strange weekend, all around. We met some incredible folks–folks that I now consider family, who I delight in worshiping with each and every Sunday. We also met some folks who didn’t want us here, and that was hard, but I understood why (their hearts were hurting from other situations). We sat with what would become fellow-staff-members-and-friends for hours, talking, eating waffles, laughing-yes, but also hearing their hurts and concerns and visions for the church. The time together was real, authentic, beautiful, cherished.
It was a very, very good weekend, but it was also so hard. I didn’t know why, really, we were pursuing this. I didn’t understand. And my disbelief in the reality of God, at the time, was this tidal wave that was threatening to break. I knew how to talk the talk, but I also was certain that what we were peddling was nothing more than smoke and mirrors. I wasn’t certain that He even existed.
The Friday night before our all-church question-and-answer session, I was awakened sometime in the early, early hours of the morning, by a terrible nightmare. And as I lay there in that unfamiliar bedroom trying to calm my racing heart and orient myself, a tremendous nor’easter battered the windows to our room (though I didn’t know what a “nor’easter” was at the time…I certainly do now…). The wind whistled, the rain was cacophonous, and I was afraid. Terrified, really.
But not of the storm that whipped the trees outside; storms don’t scare me. At all. I was scared of so much more; including our potential future in this foreign are of the country.
The next morning, the roads to the church were flooded, much like they are this afternoon. Not to the extent of today, but there was standing water on the roadways, as the tide pushed in and pushed out. But we made our way to the church, and pushed forward with the interview.
And, here I am today, years later, in that very same marshy, backwoods, flooded peninsula.
And I’m calling it home.
It won’t always be home. I recognize that fully. My gut–my intuition–tells me that this is not where I will always live. I don’t know fully what that means, today. But there will come a day, when another part of the country will be my new address.
But, for now, this is home. And, in a very real sense, this will always be a “home” to me.
It is where my children have been raised.
It is where my dear, dear church family resides.
It is where I was introduced to authors of books–such as Yancey, and Stott, and Willard, and Keller, and my “Uncle”, C.S. Lewis), and then to the recognition of scripture as truth, that eventually led me to know that God is real. And that He saves. And that grace is truth. For those facts, alone, this will always be home.
It is where I was baptized, in obedience and–for this rebellious soul–in surrender.
It is where unbelievably hard things happened. Horrific things; terrifying things, earth shattering things.
But, it is also where tremendous grace was poured out in my life and my crew’s life–healing rain, in the form of a church and a community that has loved us, and been gracious to us, and has cared for us in innumerable ways.
And, it is where overwhelming joy has been found, even in the midst of the flood waters of tremendous heartache and grief.
This is home.
And, this morning, as I sat in church and watched as–once again–a huge vacuum tube snaked across the altar in attempts to deal with the soaked carpet and water-filled electrical panels due to the rising groundwater bubbling up through the foundation, and I listened to my young pastor preach an incredible sermon that absolutely wrecked my soul on many levels–because of the hard truth contained within, and the truth of scripture, and the grief of the loss of so much–even in the midst of that which threatened to flood my soul, I was settled.
I was settled because truth is truth. God is God. Grace is grace. Family is family.
And home is home. For now, and always, even when I am called away from here.
And always, until I am called Home, to where there will be no more tears. No more floods. No more nightmares. No more sorrow.
Because here, in this marshy backwoods jut-of-land, I met God.
And He is my Everything.