God Gave Me a Home
Like a bird that wanders from its nest is a man who wanders from his home. (Proverbs 27:8)
“Good bye! I am leaving!”
My college classes were starting in two weeks, and with that farewell, my family, engrossed in a T.V. program, barely acknowledged my departure from home with only the slightest nod of their heads. I left the house and headed off to a room I rented, some 5 miles away. With that event, I began my wandering from home – like a baby bird forced from its nest.
For me, those first two years of college were the longest years of wandering that I have known. They were painful and confusing years primarily because I had no place to call home. That is a traumatic feeling to say the least. And like the little bird who has left its nest, I too was at great risk in my wandering, looking for a place to call home. Yet, had I possessed a different outlook on my circumstances, I would not have been “homeless” at all.
There was no harm intended in my forced departure from home, it had been the Parental Strategic Plan 101 for all eight of my siblings and me. “When you turn 18, you leave home and you’re on your own!” While the big picture was truly benign in purpose and intent, it was my attitude that left me in a barren wasteland. My biggest goal as a kid was to get away from home as far as I could because I so disliked their rules, and wanted to live by my own understanding. So while I was like the little bird whose mother had forced it out of the nest, it was my own attitude that caused it to be an unnecessary wandering in many, many ways. Though my anticlimactic departure brimmed with the emotions of the moment for me, in reality and for my family, it was really a very small incident and did not justify my feelings.
Actually, I was moving so close by, that there was every expectation on my family’s part that I would be coming over all the time, it hardly felt like I was leaving at all. To them, the actual scene was the same as if I was heading off to work or to run some personal errand. No one could be expected to see it as I felt it: Leaving home and going off into the unknown big scary world. However, like a little bird, I was wandering from my nest.
It’s strange to me that Proverbs 27:8 is so simple in presentation, without any development of its ideas for understanding. Its meaning is expected to be plainly seen in the analogy of a bird wandering from its nest. It assumes that everyone has seen a fledgling little bird hopping and fluttering around on the ground, having wandered from its nest. The bird is helpless, fragile, lost and at risk in the big world it has now found itself. And who has not sought to rescue such a bird in need?
The proverb says that it can happen to a man also – and it did happen to me.
What did happen to me? But the rebellious dwell in a dry land. (Psalms 68:6c) Long before I actually left home, I majored on feeling sorry for myself. I developed such a rebellious attitude toward my parents, that I was simply just biding my time, waiting until I was 18 so that I could move out and be on my own. I did not value the benefits of the home God had so providentially placed me. Rather, I nit-picked at every little rule and restriction as evidence of a vast cruel conspiracy against my happiness. So when I did leave my parent’s house, I truly was wandering from my home. I became like the tumbleweeds I saw on the barren plains of Colorado. I was looking for a place to rest in a dry and thirsty land – where no water is (Psalm 63:1e). Fortunately, that’s God’s first step toward redemption – coming to the end of myself like the typical prodigal son.
My first Thanksgiving away from home was traumatically painful because I simply refused to go home. Instead, I wandered the streets of Washington D.C. just killing time, only to have the happy visuals of families gathering for holiday smite my lonely heart. Loneliness was my biggest issue! With whom could I spend some time? I remember having an instinctive desire to seek out “family”. I wandered through 13 female relationships looking for a “sister” but usually enjoying time with their mothers more than with them. So with each escaped relationship, I became more frustrated and lonely until I was truly dwelling in a dry land. I wandered from one disappointing friendship to another. The good news is, the loneliness from wandering and my thirst for true friendship kept getting stronger – and God was in it!
Psalm 63 speaks of the desire for God that can be created in a lonely, thirsty soul. “A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psa 63:1 ESV) For nearly 19 months, I had been wandering, growing more weary and lonely with every passing day. You could say that loneliness was the dominant feeling and my sense of identity. And at that peak time of loneliness, God sent two of His servants to bring me into the heart of their little home, and to take me to church with them. My car was disabled, and I needed a ride from work; in the process, I was invited to their home. I slept on a sleeping bag under the dining room table that night. All I remember is being bathed with their love and kindness to such an intensity, that laying under that table, I said to myself, “If this is what love is, I could live under this table for the rest of my life.”
Yes, that’s an exaggerated, emotional statement, and it would not have actually worked out, to be sure. However, I had tasted the sweet water of the River of Life so freely given to me, and I surely wanted more. Upon waking, I spent the entire day (Saturday) with them and jumped at the chance to go to church with them! And while that’s a story in itself, I was Born-Again that day, and the love that I had felt from the kind couple suddenly filled my entire being by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5), and I knew the love of God personally, for the first time. And today, I can testify that that fountain of love has not ceased from flowing and welling up in me ever since that day!
But that’s not all! When I was admitted to Jesus’s family, I found an earthly family as well. While there’s no room for all of the details here, for three months, God placed me in a family-finishing school: the home of my future wife! By means of this provision, He allowed me to “finish growing up” in the care and nurture found in belonging to a family. Now I had no idea at age 20 that I needed the assistance of a family to finish growing up, but I did. God knew it and God provided for it! I was blessed with God's love in a family every day and I grew up in so many ways. One day, about 6-7 weeks into my family-finishing school, I read this passage during my quiet time: “A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.” (Psalms 68:5-6 NKJV) I was stunned! What an amazing discovery I realized that morning.
First, from His holy habitation, God is looking out for the fatherless and widows. These are the most easily disregarded people in a bustling society where broken families are not central to our focus, but God is defending them! God saw me in my 19 months of wandering, and salted my way with dryness and thirstiness. He used my lonely wanderings to make me very desirous of belonging to a family. Then he placed me into a family. First, with the couple who sheltered me on my most vulnerable night, and then with my future wife’s family for three months. I had a need that I did not realize and God provided for it in the most tender and helpful ways. And then… he gave me a wife, and a family to belong to for my journey through this life! Sally and I are in our 50th year of marriage, and it is not an exaggeration to say that living in and pursuing God’s design for the family has been our whole life story and ministry.
In that proverb about the wandering bird, the Hebrew word for wandering, nādad, (no dad?) has the meaning to retreat, flee, depart, move, wander abroad, stray, or flutter. Therefore, the intent of the proverb’s wisdom is not to focus so much on the cause or reason for a man’s wandering from his home, but to warn about the danger of such wandering – it will be as dangerous as a bird that wanders from her nest. And it is here that God's wisdom can bless the attentive parent and the thoughtful child as they both reflect on the value of the protection and stability offered to them in the home where God has placed them. I learned that God wanted to provide for my need of belonging – just like He does for all people – by providing a home of His own choosing. Be aware, you cannot have such a blessing without submitting to God in your home. Many seek the face of a ruler, but it is from the LORD that a man gets justice. (Prov 29:26)
"Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.
Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.
But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
... For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” (Jer 29:4-7, 11-14 ESV)
If it is true that it is God who sets the solitary in families, then the first rule of happiness and prosperity is to fully and whole-heartedly embrace the family where God has placed you. Don’t listen to Satan who will only scoff and mock at your home. His only desire is for you to be cut loose as a rebel into a dry land. You can spend years, and perhaps your entire life wandering like a little bird from her nest. Look at the bold words in the passage above, its promises are very direct and personal to each and every person who finds themself in a state of wandering.
1. Be prosperous where God has put you. Always live in light of God’s plan and promises.
2. Always seek the welfare of the place where God has placed you; always pray for those who are authorities in your life. In this way, you are seeking and praying for your own prosperity!
3. Never doubt that God has plans for you. Never stray from the place where those plans are meant to prosper you and give you a future and a hope.
4. Call on the Lord with all your heart. Not half-heartedly, not to be seen of men, but in holy desperation, recognizing that it is only from the Lord that you will receive justice, purpose, hope and a future.
And please, have a very, very blessed Mother’s Day this year!
Alone no more! The 50th Anniversary of meeting Sally and the “Mother who took me in”.
 My Grandpa was sent from home at age 13. My Dad had it better. After turning 13 he was allowed to stay home and go to high school – but he had to pay room and board. My parents were much more liberal in waiting until we were 18.  In each class I took on campus, I would search the classroom on day one, looking for the most sister-like classmate. Now I knew nothing about the Scriptural call to treat young women like sisters (1Tim. 5:2), but that’s what I tried to do. However, I missed out on the contextual requirement of such treatment, “with all purity”. The most basic definition of purity is, to preserve a thing entire for God’s intended purpose. I had a healthy relationship with my sisters (all five of them); what made those relationships “pure” was the fact that there was never even the slightest hint that we might ever be more than just siblings. I did not treat my sisters with any singularity of focus, we were all just siblings. However, when a young man singles out a particular young woman in any way, a different course will most often develop because he crosses the platonic boundary of sister, and introduces the emotionally charged possibility of “something more”. Hence, I was stirring up emotional feelings by singling them out and then run to escape the affections I stirred. –That wonderful feminine desire of which I had no understanding. (Heb. tesh-oo-kaw’, stretching out after. Gen 3:16; Song 7:10)