We moved to a new town the summer before I began fourth grade. A shy bookworm, I had stick-straight blonde hair down to my rear, 90s bangs, and an affinity for wearing a Mickey Mouse tunic and leggings. It was summer, so without school to help me meet other kids, I grabbed my trusty Huffy bike and took to the roads instead. Up and down the streets I rode, hair flying in the wind, as I learned my new home. One by one, I counted the blocks and memorized the streets. Sibley. Marshall. Holcombe. Each day, the map in my mind expanded.
It wasn’t long before I was looking at Lisa’s hamsters, or playing with Rachel from across the street, or buying slushies from Handi Stop and daring my friends and I to suck them down in Lauren’s piping-hot attic until we could no longer stand the heat.
I didn’t travel far, really, no more than a mile radius in all. But slowly as I learned the streets and the people who lived on them, and began to measure the distance to friends in city blocks, the town became home.
Later, when I moved from the south side of town to the north side, I fell into my old bike-riding routine. Sara was two blocks away, Shayna a short distance the other way, Kelsie up past the schools. Familiarity bred comfort, and that became home.
For some reason, my street-memorizing habits came to mind not long ago. I’m embarrassed to say that this spring, I fell out of my Bible-reading routine. Though I wish I had the early-to-bed habits that would allow me to sit and read before my children wake up in the morning, I’m not a morning person. That time of day, the only thing I’m reading are the buttons on my Keurig machine.
So the other day, when I started reading where I had left off a while ago, I found myself in the book of Daniel. Really, he’s pretty amazing, and not just because he survived a night with lions. His story begins when King Nebuchadnezzar defeats King Jehoiakim of Judah. King Nebuchadnezzar removes sacred objects from the kingdom to take home with him, but he also takes young men—described as “strong, healthy, good-looking” young men, noblemen who are well-educated—to train in the court and learn their ways. Daniel, as one of the men chosen, goes from a life of privilege to one of uncertainty, at the whims and mercy of a foreign king and country. How lost must Daniel have felt? How homesick must he have been, torn from the life he knew?
But like my bike-riding voyages, Daniel finds a home. Not just in the traditional sense—although he is shown favor several times over the years—but because his habits lead him to recognize his true home. He continued to eat (or not eat) the foods he was supposed to, continued to pray to the God he believed in. Daniel’s home wasn’t found in the whims of kings but in the One True King, and as a result he survives and thrives in his new life.
It’s been a long time since I’ve gone for a bike ride down Marshall Avenue on my Huffy. And yet, I still feel that same pull within me that I felt so long ago. To map out who I am and where I live, to be fully known and loved and quintessentially home. But Daniel’s story is a good reminder to me—she-who-tries-to-control-it-all—that things may be out of my control and I may wonder where I fit in, and yet my true home is found first, always, in the matchless love of a savior. I don’t have to recite 500 scriptures or prove I’m holy enough or try just a little bit harder than I did yesterday. I’m loved regardless, and instead of measuring my concept of home in concrete city blocks I can measure it in the promises God has given to me.
“Don’t be afraid,
I’ve redeemed you.I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.” (Isaiah 43:2-4, MSG)
Kristin is SO excited to announce that her new book, Grace for the Misfits: 31 Days Pursuing the Unconventional Favor of God, is available now! This book will offer encouragement and hope for anyone who has ever felt like they didn’t quite fit in, walked through hard times, or wasn’t sure God could use them–all while discovering the upside-down ways of Jesus, his kingdom, and what (and who) he says matters. Find out more information here.