I walked in to church last Sunday and one of the first things I hear is, “Hey Jake, how are you doing?! I bet you’re really glad to be home.”
He was surprised by my answer.
“Home?”, I thought to myself.
“Not really,” I told him with a slight smile. The conversation quickly faded as the lights were dimmed. The strumming of guitars echoed as the worship team began to play.
But in my ears, all I could hear was the echo of those words, “…glad to be home.”
I spent nearly two months of my life in a completely foreign country with people I had never met before. I spent my days in a weird cycle of washing dishes, jumping off cliffs and rope swings, and having great conversations with people of different ethnicities. For seven weeks, I felt alive. I felt wild. I felt free. And yet in the very building where Christians gather every Sunday to feel alive and wild and free, I felt alone. I felt confused. And I felt encaged.
Yes, I’m back in Newnan. No, I’m not home.
But Jamaica isn’t home either. Neither is Canada or India or Thailand or any other country I may find myself in. In fact, I received a text while in Jamaica from a friend who was asking if I was home sick. Home sick hadn’t even crossed my mind until I got the text. I never did get home sick there. Contrarily, one of the main reasons why I ventured off to Jamaica was because I was sick of my home. I was sick of the mundane life I was living, in which the most exciting parts of my days were placing top 10 in Fortnite and watching the old guy at the gym try to flirt with the blonde doing hip thrusters. I was sick of the culture’s version of success, in which the worth of a man is measured by his bank account and body count. So I paid a small company named Delta to fly me and a hundred-something other people to this island just south of Cuba. And for seven weeks I felt God’s presence as I embraced adventure and the unknown.
But now I feel like a stranger in my own hometown.
“It was only seven weeks,” I tell myself. But those seven weeks changed my life. I found my purpose. I got out of my comfort zone. I made incredible friends. Yet now I’ve spent two weeks in no way fulfilling my purpose, I’m in my comfort zone, and the incredible friends I’ve made since May all live in another city or another country. Why would God bless me with two months of adventure and friendship, and then seemingly take it all away?
I’ve realized that with life comes seasons. We don’t always get to choose what season we are in, but we can choose how to respond to it. We have seasons of happiness in which we see God so clearly moving in our lives. We have seasons of confusion in which we don’t understand our current situation and why something is the way it is. We have seasons of friendships. We have seasons of loneliness. And in the midst of all these seasons is preparation. God is preparing us for the next season. God is always up to something.
So no, I’m not glad to be “home.” I’ve realized that my home is not a physical place, but rather relationships and fellowship. And the reason why I feel so lonely is because I am now lacking good relationships and fellowship. So today, even though I am writing this in my house, I am home sick. But through prayer, conversation, and reading, I’ve realized that I am in a new adventure. Sure, I may not be swimming in the Caribbean or walking through downtown Kingston anytime soon, but I now know that with each new season comes a choice. And that is the choice to listen to the voice of God and follow Him into the unknown, or sink back into my comfort zone in fear of the unknown. And if there is one thing I learned during my time in Jamaica, it’s that the unknown plans God has for me will be so much more rewarding than anything I could ever plan myself. I just have to be patient in the mundane as God continues His work and preparation in me.
When David killed Goliath, God was giving David a glimpse into the life He had for him. But David continued as a shepherd for more than ten years before he became king. Perhaps my experience in Jamaica was just a glimpse into God’s promise for me. Maybe He gave me that glimpse of adventure so that I would not lose hope of the promise.
I don’t know what’s next. But I’m looking forward to it. Even if it means I have to be a shepherd for a bit.
So as I reflect on the past two to three months of my life and what a blessing they were, I am reminded that life is always ahead of us. Don’t live in “the good old days.” Live in the present. Look forward to the future. Laugh at your own plans — they won’t work out anyways. Life may seem boring right now, but God is up to something. The best is yet to come.