Finding the Meaning of Home in a Foreign Land

The Bible tells us that those who are children of God are strangers and aliens in this world. Our “true passports” are stamped with the blood of Jesus, our real citizenship in heaven.


It is a place we have never been, yet we know when we arrive, it will feel like we have finally come to the Home of all homes. All those we’ve had here will have been but a beautiful tease of what awaits us.

We all have this innate desire to belong, to be home, to know that we are rooted in some place for some time, connected to something bigger than our smallness. It is all more than the instinct to nest, it is eternity set in our hearts.

Becoming a missionary in foreign soil has a way of making your roots looser—the tentacles to this world don’t attach so tenaciously. How can they when you find yourself in a place that is utterly unlike all of your cultural programmings?  Your anchor is no longer hooked between the rocks of familiarity, but in Who is there when all those rocks roll away — Jesus.

At first, it is jarring, this sense of rollicking over new waters. You find yourself still grasping for all that you can understand and all that can bring you comfort. But after a while, when the weaning is more complete, it offers a new kind of rest.  The fact that you can abide anywhere safely, legally and with contented joy on this earth is but by His gracious hand.

This truth sinks deep.

I felt this yet again yesterday as we spent several hours at the immigration office in Puebla.  The colors of the Mexican flag decorated the long counter.  The signs, of course, all encoded in Spanish.  There was not a blue-eyed blond in sight, albeit our family.  After our first turn at the counter, we walked across the street to a hole-in-the-wall photoshop that catered to visa needs. We slicked our hair back, removed the jewelry, and donned our most serious expressions for the flash.  Twenty minutes later we jogged back with our packet of tiny and costly photos, dodging the smeared tamales dulce on the sidewalk.  After being asked the usual questions, translating our heights and weights into meters and kilos, we were all fingerprinted.

An hour later, we received our visa resident cards—good for the kids and me for three years. Praise be to God! No messing around with paperwork and lawyers and so much longer while when then we can apply for permanent residency.  What a far cry from the boyhood days of my husband in Central America when he and his family had to drive up the US border every six months!

We are legal.  For a long stretch.  Home in a country that is the only place our daughter remembers living.  Home in a land where God called us to come and abide.  Strangely home in an area that still holds more questions for us than answers.

This all has me thinking: If everything in my (our) lives is a show in the heavenlies illustrating redemption and to declare His glory in the ages to come and to prepare us for eternity, then living here in Mexico is quite significant. It’s a grand show. And a divine orchestration that to seek him and reach out for him.

For he is not far from any one of us.

“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him, we live and move and have our being.” – Acts 17:26-28

Update:  Little did I know when I wrote this that God would surprise us with an unexpected pregnancy, the birth of our youngest son in Mexico speeding up our permanent residency status…

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