Because of my job, my family and I have to move every couple of years to a new city and spend a few years there. This will be our life until I quit or retire. Its part of the contract. In other words, we live a sort of nomadic life. Wanderers.
And each time we move, it feels like a new chapter, or a new season. We find ourselves looking for community, for friends and for a place to worship. One thing I have come to appreciate is that there is nothing quite like the worldwide church. From the dusty street of Ethiopia to the financial capital of the world, Christians gather to worship. Even if we might come from vastly different cultures, we call the same God “Father”, and therefore we have a kinship, an extended family. A few months ago, after we had invited a mix of friends over to celebrate Norah’s birthday party, a couple we met through work were so struck by the network of kind and generous people we have made through church, that they asked to come to church with us. They simply had not come across that kind of community in New York, and they craved it. When people move to a new city, the church has a unique ability (in fact, a duty) to provide love, to welcome the wanderer. As John said, they will know us by our love.
As I grow older and walk farther along the path of faith in Christ, I have also felt a bit like a spiritual wanderer.
We have bounced around different churches and expressions of worship. I have had seasons when I held certain aspects of the faith as “gospel truth”, which I no longer grip so tightly. I have explored different ways to interpret the bible. I think the older I get, the more I realize how little I know!
There have been times in my life when I have felt God’s presence very close, in a deep sense of peace, a beating of my heart, a clear nudge of thought. And then there are the more normal times… When I don’t feel God. When the “still, small voice” seems like a memory. When the thought of prayer or reading my bible feels like a difficult task. When the wanderer is at sea.
Feeling like a spiritual wanderer is a risky situation. It is when we could lose our first love. We can easily despair at the state of the world. COVID, the war in Ukraine, the exposure of countless church scandals, a whole generation of Christians “deconstructing” without reconstructing any faith… It could all make you think that God is abandoning the world. We don’t know how far we have drifted until we hit the rocks.
But then I remember who God is. God is not a feeling. He is not an ideology. He is not a sense of wellbeing.
He is the Creator, and He called His creation good. He has no sin in Him.
God is God.
He does not need me to feel Him, for Him to be. He does not need me to believe the right thing, for Him to be.
Wherever we go, whatever our season, He continues to be God. He continues to love us. He is always working, always present.
This is what gives me comfort when I’m wandering.