This is Not Where I Belong

This summer has been weird to say the least. I’ve been straddled between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college. The high school chapter has closed, but the college chapter hasn’t quite opened yet. To be honest, I’ve been floundering. I don’t feel like I have a place, I don’t really know where I belong. It feels like nowhere is “home”.
Thinking about all of this the past few days, I started thinking about what belonging really is. What does it mean to belong somewhere? What does it mean to have a place to fit in and call home?
Home is where you’re comfortable being yourself. It’s where you feel safe and loved. Home is more than a place, it’s a group of people, it’s family, it’s love. The word takes on different forms in different ways. When I think of home, I think of family dinners or sitting around the fireplace playing Monopoly with my brothers and sisters. I also think about Christmas at my Nana’s house with all of my cousins and eating chocolate chip muffins for breakfast. And lastly, I think of tear-filled prayer nights with my youth group when we were all drawn closer to God and to each other in a way that I will never be able to describe.

When I think of belonging, I think of hanging out with my closest friends, being able to act like a little kid and make a complete fool of myself, because they love me anyway. I think of walking into a room and seeing a circle of people where you know you will be welcome and escape the awkwardness of having to stand in the corner by yourself.

But what I’ve been realizing recently is that the question really shouldn’t be “where do I belong?” at least not in an earthly sense. Because Jesus told us time and time again to expect not to belong here on earth, and that finding a place to belong here shouldn’t be the goal anyway!

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” — John 15:19

Jesus has chosen us out of this world and called us to something higher. I love the way Carrie Underwood puts it in her song “Temporary Home” saying, “This is my temporary home, it’s not where I belong, windows and rooms that I’m passing through. This is just a stop on the way to where I’m going, I’m not afraid because I know, this is my temporary home.”

That’s a mentality that I need to cling to far more often that I do. I don’t need to be looking for fulfillment or a place to belong on this earth. This isn’t my home. I need to be focused on living for my eternal destination, living like I’m a resident of Heaven and not of Earth. Jesus taught us to store up treasures in Heaven, where they can’t be destroyed or stolen (Matthew 6:19-20).

“For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” — Hebrews 13:14

But what does that look like? What does it look like to live for Heaven? To live as if this world isn’t our home? What would tangibly change in my life if I truly believed that? Two things come to my mind immediately about how my life should look if I’m living for Heaven and not for earth.

1. My Priorities Would Change

I have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that if I were to live with Heaven constantly at the front of my mind, some things would lose their importance very quickly. Somehow I know that I wouldn’t be mindlessly scrolling through Instagram as often, and that watching TV would seem pointless. If this world is fleeting (which it is) and Heaven is eternal (which is also true) then the only things that should truly matter here and things that will affect what happens there. People and their souls would take on much higher importance, and anything less would fade quickly into the background.

“Aim at Heaven and you will get earth thrown in, aim at earth and you will get neither.” — C.S. Lewis

2. I Would Live with Hope

Let’s be honest, this world looks pretty bleak a lot of the time. But in the grand scheme of things, this life is a blip on the timeline of eternity. Disappointment and despair here, are nothing compared to the joy and victory and freedom we are going to experience in Heaven. God has promised us abundant, life in Heaven where “death will no longer exist, [and] grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer” (Revelation 21:4). And that should give us hope to keep on waiting patiently for the day when the trumpets will sound and we will be called home. There’s a song by Phil Wickham that says,

“I want to run on greener pastures, I want to dance on higher hills. I want to drink from sweeter waters in the misty morning chill. And my soul is getting restless for the place where I belong, I can’t wait to join the angels and sing my Heaven Song.”

That perfectly mimics my heart. I can’t wait for Heaven and the glory that will be revealed to us there. But until that day comes, I am able to live in joyful anticipation of it. Because this is not where I belong, and that’s okay, I’m so glad that I belong somewhere much better.

“All I know is I’m not home yet, this is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus, this is not where I belong.”


I Want to be Guilty

The word “guilty” holds a very negative connotation… and generally, I would agree that it is a negative word, and one that you would never want to be described by. But it was only very recently that I began to consider under what circumstances should the verdict of “guilty”  be one that I wear proudly.

If serving You’s against the law of man, if living out my faith in You was banned — then I’d stand right before the jury

If saying, “I believe,” is out of line. If I’m judged because I’m gonna give my life to show the world the love that fills me…

Then I want to be guilty.

These song lyrics are by the Newsboys, and brought tears to my eyes the first time I heard them. They poignantly paint a picture of a Christian standing “guilty” before the jury for their faith. The song reminds me of Christian martyrs in the early church, like Stephen who was stoned for preaching the gospel. It reminds me of missionaries like Nate Saint who were brutally murdered on the mission field… but who does it not remind me of? It doesn’t remind me of me. Of my safe, sheltered life here in the United States. Of my lack of fervor for the gospel. And that breaks my heart.

Why have I let the idea of my life being persecuted become so foreign to me? I have no idea. This should be something that we as Christians expect and are prepared for. Or even more, according to the apostles example in Acts chapter 5, this should be something that we rejoice in!

“The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.” — Acts 5:41

As I have thought and prayed about this over the past few months, an entirely different perspective has come to me regarding persecution, sharing my faith, and how the world views me for doing so. It comes as a sharp awakening and challenge to myself, and it’s not something I want to downplay anymore.

Honestly, I am not persecuted in any way shape or form for living the Christian life that I live. I go to church without having to hide it, I can speak the name of Jesus without being stoned, and yet I still back away from boldly declaring my faith for petty reasons such as it being uncomfortable, or that I am scared to offend anyone. I haven’t the slightest thing holding me back from sharing Jesus’ name constantly, there are no laws threatening my safety or life for doing so, and yet I can’t remember the last time I actually did just that. I can’t remember the last time I shared the gospel of hope to someone who needed to hear it.

American Christians can talk all day long about being “persecuted” even though we aren’t. But here is what scares me the most.. if a law were to be enacted that punished Christians for sharing their faith, would I be punished? If persecution were real in this country, would I be experiencing it? In all truthfulness, I would have to say no. Sure, if someone asks me if I am a Christian, I will answer yes. But do I go out and make disciples? Do I initiate conversations about my Savior? Not really. And I don’t want to be okay with that anymore.

“You will be hated by everyone on account of My name, but the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.” — Matthew 10:22

I want to be included in that. I want to be hated by this world and if this world starts calling people guilty for their faith, then I want to be one of those on whom the verdict hangs. I don’t want to hide from persecution, I want to embrace it proudly, because that means that this world knows who I’m living and dying for.

“I want to be guilty by association, guilty of being a voice proclaiming Your ways, Your truth, Your life, I’ll pay the price to be Your light. Oh, I want to be guilty.”

Take a second and think about the ways “guilty” can carry a positive connotation and light. The disciples in Acts 5 sure thought that it did! I want to be like them. Fearlessly and joyfully living, suffering, and dying for my Savior, because He lived, suffered, and died for me.

Land of the Free, Because of the Brave

“Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?”

On Monday, I was feeling very patriotic sitting on the top of my car listening to “The Star Spangled Banner” and “I’m Proud to be an American” while watching fireworks and celebrating my country. But here I am, Friday, devastated and speechless over the events that have unfolded since then. Not only in my country, but in my city, way too close for comfort.

Since Monday night, I have had the phrase running through my head — land of the free, because of the brave — because of our armed forces, our police department, our fire department, our country is able to experience the freedom and protection that we have today, but no matter how great of a job these people as a whole perform, corruption and evil continue to put up a strong fight. 

There is corruption everywhere. There are corrupt police officers, there are corrupt truck drivers, corrupt men and corrupt women, corrupt whites and blacks, corrupt people claiming every religion under the sun. And Jesus told us to expect nothing less.

There is evil running rampant in this world, and I hate it, especially this week. Dallas is my home. The skyline whose pictures are plastering every social media site is one that I drive past regularly. I have a friend who is training to become a Dallas Police Officer. To say that last night’s shootings hit too close to home is an understatement. It brought me to tears and to asking way too many “why?” questions that I will never have an answer to. So I could talk all day long about how awful these tragedies have been, how much hate is blanketing my country, but my Heavenly Father keeps gently prodding me with 2 things. 

1. He has already claimed the ultimate victory

“And He said to me, “It is finished. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life. The victor will inherit these things and I will be his God and he will be My son.” — Revelation 21:6-7

After the Christina Grimmie shooting last month, I watched her cover of “In Christ Alone” on repeat. I cried over and over hearing her sing “No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry, to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny” Her final breath was way sooner than anyone would have expected, but as I listened to that song wash over me time after time, God began to wash over my heart with peace. He reminded me that He is not only the Creator of the Universe, but also the Sustainer of the Universe. No matter how dark the night looks, He still reigns victorious, and He is coming back one day to claim this world that He has never let go for a moment. In times like these, I have to cling to that hope and have faith in the promises of my Savior that He will never leave us alone. 
2. This is my chance to be a light in a dark place

As I began to think about that hope that I can have, even amidst all the chaos, hate, and darkness cloaking my city and my world, I began to realize how selfish I must be not to be proclaiming that hope everywhere I go. This world needs hope and peace and healing, and more than ever, they know that. Christians have been handed the golden opportunity to be the vessel God uses to bring that hope and restoration. The world is looking for hope and peace like never before. We hold the gospel, we hold that hope, and it’s our job to share it. 
It hurts that this happened. It makes it hard to feel safe even in my own city. It sparks despair and fear. But I have a choice. We have a choice. We can talk about the problem all day long, or we can look to our ultimate solution. Our Father that already reigns victorious. So join me in praying for Dallas and even more in being a beacon of hope to our dark world. Here in America we live in the land of the free because of the brave like those police officers who risked and lost their lives for us; and as Christians, we live free because of Jesus who paid the ultimate sacrifice of His life for us. So let’s start living like it. Not taking advantage of our freedoms anymore, but using them to spread our light. 

“No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry, to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost it’s grip on me. For I am His and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ.”