In a land flowing with milk and honey, one might think of green pastures, lush gardens and cascading waters that lull you into a never-never land type setting. Though I believe our promised land will undoubtedly be a beautiful place to behold, the more I’ve researched the scriptures surrounding this biblical account, the more I know this place is actually found within. The Israelites were in search of new pastures in which to dwell and those who actually made it, made to such a place. In our day, after Jesus came, I believe that “place” is not located by GPS or by uprooting or replanting in a new town, state or country. It's found deep within, where grace and peace can truly abide. In Spirit and in truth.
I love to experience different people, places and things. Exploring foreign lands and delving into diverse cultures has always felt like home to me. Stuck in areas where we all look the same, think the same, talk the same and act the same would bore me stiff. Life is too short and this incredibly beautiful world, which is filled with incredibly beautiful people, are far too precious to pass up while we stay in our comfort zones with similar zip codes. How can we ever be fully stretched, challenged and enlightened if we only travel the same streets, see the same people and do the same things every day until the day we die. That's not to say there isn't great peace, blessing and joy in doing life with the same people and in the town you grew up in, home will always be home, but exploring beyond those borders is sometimes essential for growth.
I'm the first to admit, I'm ever so tethered to my own little zip code. I live in an adorable and wonderfully diverse neighborhood right on the expansive Lake Michigan in a sweet little condo planted in a city that has dug it’s way deep into my heart. Since venturing out on a school field trip from my little hometown of South Bend, Indiana when I was in Junior High, my sights got set quickly on the City of Broad Shoulders. That trip to the Field Museum never left me, nor did what I still think to this day is the best skyline in the grand old US of A. Chicago, or Chi-town as we call it, has been home to me for the past 15 years and I’ve loved (almost) every minute of it. Of course, the taxes, the traffic, pot holes and brutal winters have made it a love-hate relationship at times, but I’m crazy about this hot mess of a City. I could fill this entire article with all the reasons I love it so and give you hundreds of incredible things to do and see here, but this isn’t about that.
Along with feeling blessed to have done well in Chicago for all these years (the majority of the time being single with no family here), I’m also incredibly blessed to have traveled to many foreign lands. I still marvel at the opportunities I’ve had. From ventures to third world countries steeped in poverty such as Liberia, Africa where I got to help on missions trips to going on educational tours or being offered guest artist contracts, the Lord has seen fit to take me all over the world at a pretty young age. His plans have taken me all over the Islands of Greece, to many Cities in Italy, Paris, Budapest, Germany, Prague, Australia, Amsterdam, Jamaica, St. Thomas, Cayman Islands … and the list goes on. To God be the glory for such unforgettable and precious adventures where He taught me so very much! Many heart-breaking experiences were had, but all were also indescribably awesome gifts I’ll forever treasure.
That being said, I still have arrived at the conclusion that our inner man is most at home anywhere in the world when our internal address takes up permanent residence on a street called peace. For all the grand adventures, living the big City life for nearly 2 decades and having a bit of a wild but near story book upbringing on the streets of South Bend, Indiana, "home" must become a state of mind, not a state in which we reside. Notre Dame territory, where the malls were corn fields as a kid, offered up great childhood memories, but there is no place better than being in a place of peace. Addresses change, people come and go, corn fields and old movie theaters you couldn’t get me out of as a girl get torn down. But when we find and dwell in peace, when we realize this is our royal heritage as Sons and Daughters of God and know how to hold onto it, then we are at home. And you know the famous line … “there’s no place like home.”
Home is never far away when we press into the place of peace and rest in the arms of Jesus. THIS is our promised land and with Him, it can be accessed no matter what town we live in.
Life can get messy. It can get crazy, busy and even way too painful at times, but if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we will not only, not sink in a sea of sorrow or despair, but we’ll keep our peace. Then we can arise. Then we can mount up on wings as eagles and soar again. But it takes a willingness to let go of the comfort zone, expand our territory, and grab hold of the new. As scary as it might be, there is hope, peace and joy waiting on the other side of God directed steps, even if the step we are taking is unfamiliar and all that is ahead is unknown. Embracing the great mystery that is Christ Jesus and clinging to the fact that He always has our best interest in mind, we win. We win when we say yes to His agenda, His timing, His plans and His will for our lives.
I recently saw a picture that said, “our next favorite place, is somewhere we’ve never been before.” How can we discover new favorites, or merely, new things about ourselves, new things we can do and become, let alone new places and new people, unless we step out, by faith, and do so confidently because we’ve learned to let peace take up residence within and abide (remain) there?
When God is by our side, we cannot fail. Remember that His peace is such that passes all understanding, so it matters not if everyone sees, believes or understands what you’re feeling led to do. The only matter is getting into a peaceful place where His voice can be clearly discernible. Then His will becomes evident and your next grand adventure can begin. Happy trails everyone!