Psalm 85:5-6

Blessed are those whose strength is in You,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
asTea they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A better country

Another week's rushed by and it's time once again for another Random Journal Day Link Up.  Play along, if you write, read along if you read. Here's the link: Wah Lah!

Today when I reached onto my shelf of blue notebooks, I found Summer 1996.  This entry is August 11 (which was my Granddaddy's birthday, though I didn't mention this). We were on our way to a basketball camp in Olds, Alberta, which is north of Calgary.

Yesterday, after crossing the jagged peaks of the "I want a rock from the Rockies" mountains (as J put it), and starting northward in a straight line between long fields of cattle (twice passing groups of cows on the road itself), I felt that same claustrophobic feeling I've only felt in the flatlands of Kansas and Oklahoma.  "We're too far from the edge," I thought. "We can't get off." And my breathing quickened. I remember it so well, though it's been a dozen or more years since I last felt it. And I know it's counter-intuitive but I'm most claustrophobic in the places where nothing breaks up the horizon lines, where there are no trees or hills and the sky looks like it could crush the earth.  It tightens my chest with the sense that I can't move; yes, can't get off.
But then the thought jolted me that in fact I really can't get off.  Of this whole earth.  My feet and body are planted here, not merely by gravity, but by God Himself. And this panic which reaches in to strangle me is not about needing an edge--about wanting to be near the sea, which is just an arbitrary comfort that I'm used to, but is the truest reaction I could have. I do not really belong here. My sojourn in this place is temporary--nowhere on this planet is my true home. As I struggle to make my way here, it's the "longing for a better country--a heavenly one," as Hebrews 11 puts it, that I experience.  The earth has no way off, save one. And I am 'stuck' until He calls me. And though I strain my eyes until they tear, the fact that I can see nothing on the horizon here in Alberta is a perfect reminder--that I cannot see with my human eyes what I am really longing for.  So this restlessness within, even in the most beautiful places, is covering the deep desire for my true home.
But for all this, for here and now, for this day in this place, I am content. I can say with Paul, "I desire to depart and be with Christ, but it is more necessary [for my children especially] that I remain in the body." Philippians 1: 23

3 comments:

Modern Day Disciple said...

Oh, yes! I love this. This is powerful. I have felt that...longing- moreso before I began trusting Him...you reminded me of a few moments I forgot about. Yes, we long to "get off"...knowing the better place is wherever He is- thankfully it is with us through His Spirit, but certainly we long for the more to come. Rich insights. Thanks for sharing.

Kristina said...

My husband doesn;t like the flat plains for similar reasons as you! I don't understand it though. I love to be able to see forever. To each his own, I guess.

Pamela M. Steiner said...

I understand perfectly how you felt...we lived in Kansas for a few months, after living in the White Mountains of New Hampshire...and I thought I would suffocate from the flatness and undending horizon. I started imagining that the clouds were mountains alongside the road as we traveled...it comforted me more that I like to admit seeing mountain formations in the clouds...Oh yes...I can totally relate. Thanks for a good reminder of how God is with us whereever we go.