The focus of the last few days has been to assist my daughter as she moved into a house near the university she attends. It is a great place. She loves it and is going to enjoy the time she stays there.
As we moved her stuff into her house I noticed that this move was different from the previous move-in days to the dorm. We hung photos and art work on the walls, situated her bed, desk, chest, and bookshelf just where she wanted them. We put her kitchen items where they needed to be. We even bought her a few gardening tools so she can plant flowers and vegetables. As we finished the move I teased her saying, "I sure hope you're planning to stay here a long time." She agreed.
As her roommates arrived their experience was similar. Each one settling in to a new surroundings. Each one doing what they can to make this new place feel like home. Each one trying to create a space where they can feel safe and comfortable.
As I have watched her get settled in, I remember all the times I have done the same thing. Each time we have moved to a new home I have had trouble resting until all the boxes are empty, or at least stored out of my sight. My typical routine involves developing a space where I can retreat for quiet and calm. A place within the place where I can feel at home.
I have done the same with my offices. I want my desk to be in the right spot. I want my books on the shelves. I want to sit where I can have a comfortable view out the window. The lighting has to be just right. I've been known to arrange, rearrange, and then rearrange my furniture multiple times (sometimes in the same day) trying to create that place where I can settle in.
In my home and in my office, I try to make myself, my soul, feel settled. It works for a while. Then, I get restless. Jimmy Buffet calls it, "Pacing the Cage." I begin to feel there should be something more ... something better. Nothing seems to fit ... no matter how I arrange my office.
Several years ago I came across this quote from C. S. Lewis that not only expresses my feelings and brings comforts at the same time:
If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world [Mere Christianity, Collier Books: New York, 1943, p. 120.].
The Scriptures seem to paint a similar image:
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God [Hebrews 11:8-10 NIV].
My quest for home continues. I will return home to my house with my stuff and go back to my office where I will do all I can to settle in again with the life I live. It will be different from how it was last week, and perhaps completely unlike it will be next week. Assuming there is a next week.
My prayer for my daughter is that she will settle in for the semester, the year, perhaps two or three years before another move. It is my prayer that this house will be like a home to her for as long as she lives there. I pray that when she is in her place she will look around her room and will feel safe, comfortable, and at rest with her collection of items that remind her that she is loved. I pray that she will enjoy this life she has today and live it to the fullest to the glory of the Lord.
My greater prayer, however, is that she will never settle in so much or become so attached to the things of this world that she loses the "desire which no experience in this world can satisfy." This is my prayer for my daughter. This is the prayer for my son and his wife. This is the prayer for my wife. This is the prayer for my friends and church family — near and far. This is the prayer for you. This is the prayer for me.
Wherever you are in this world, settle in, enjoy your surroundings, and try to rest. Please remember, however, that this world has not been designed to completely satisfy the deepest longings of our heart, so the best we can do is to try to settle in while we are in this temporary place we call home.