The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden,
and there He put the man whom He had formed.
Upon arriving at a new home, whether it’s a home for a week, hotel room for a weekend or home for the foreseeable future, the first thing I do is search for a corner that will be my place. I scurry from one spot to another, trying out the leg room, the lighting, the “feel” of it. On this piece of floor, against this spot of wall, I will sip my coffee each morning (procuring the coffee is sometimes a bit of a concern!), read my Bible, tell my heart to be quiet, listen to my heavenly Father and, yes, even daydream. Like an African mama, I stretch my legs straight out in front of me and lean against my spot of wall. Later in the day I may rest myself there with a novel, or a bit of crocheting. There isn’t always an extra bedroom, office space, desk, or even a cozy chair in the house/hotel/transit lounge where I find myself. But there has always been a floor and a wall rising from it at (usually) a 90 degree angle. It isn’t home; but it’s a place He has suited to me. It is from this spot, this tiny little place-of-mine, that I come to grips with the environment beyond my feet.
How am I to think about this strong desire and need for a “spot”? Who’s going to explain myself to me? The professional who just wrote a book about missionary issues? A therapist who designs his method of soul care around new studies? I think not. God, my Creator, explains me to myself very adequately within the first pages of His word, the Bible. In fact, the only pure and complete source of everything God wants me to know about Himself and about my soul is in the Bible. God has given to us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which can be found in every verse between and including Genesis 1:1 and Revelation 22:21 as the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see and ears to hear. This being the case, let’s look at the first pages of Genesis with the conviction that God wants to, and will, bring truth to anything we need to understand about our need for place.
God starts right out informing us of His daily activities that resulted, after six days, in an entire Earth suitable for human habitation. Imagine that! He was preparing a place for us, thinking about us and our needs and the desires he would delight to plant within us (according to His own likeness) – all before we even existed! What love! What foreknowledge! What infinite, meticulous planning! Then, he breathed life into His masterpiece creation, Adam and his excellent helper, Eve. He gave them Earth! He essentially offered them the world! I’d say their domain took in quite a bit of territory, wouldn’t you?
But wait! God shares with us in more detail. (Remember, He wants us to know what He is like, His character, and the nature of humans.) God planted a garden, a real place, in a real location, in real time. A place that occupied a small spot on the expanse of perfect planet. He purposefully, deliberately placed His two first people in that one, relatively small spot. This would be their place. And He said it was good.
My dear missionary colleague, precious TCK, wandering Christian, we, too, were created to occupy a material, tangible location. God created the desire in you and me, as well as the capacity to thrive in a place. Because of the historically recent fascination with human behavior and emotion, there are a lot of voices out there saying that this is a new truth, and they have new ways to help you in your pain and struggle with displacement. Please do not let these “professional helpers” distract you from the truth that never changes: To be in a place is the nature of His image, stamped on your soul. It is good. Don’t let an idolatrous insistence on being or feeling at home rob you of the joy He gives in a “lesser place”.
Thank the Creator for the piece of earth where you stand; abide in Him, feast on His word. He alone will sustain you in this place He has provided for you.
Thank you, my Father, for this spacious length of tiled floor and sturdy, concrete wall rising straight up from it. Thank you for “my spot” where I meet you and where my soul thrives. Thank you for lovingly fashioning me to thrive in a physical place.
Genesis 1 and 2; 2Peter 1:3-4; Psalm 119:128; Psalm 33:15