Two handmade quilts on my bed in this little corner of Richmond because it’s 20°F out there and the heat isn’t turned on for my drafty room, and I don’t know how to turn it on. But, two quilts are warm and I can endure… so I’m not complaining, because the kettle works and I’ve got enough tea to last me a very long time. (warning: over-caffeinated Hannah possibly on the loose)
But back “home” in Inner Mongolia. Folks. It’s Negative Two Degrees Fahrenheit. -2° F “Feels like -15°F” I’m not even kidding.
Yesterday I worked a 12-hour shift at the hospital and sometime in the later morning one of the residents said something about snowflakes and all of the nurses thought that he was lying to us. Maybe this is because nurses don’t take doctors seriously when they’re not talking about diseases and drugs… or maybe it’s the fact that Virginia has been experiencing such a balmy winter that it hasn’t even felt like winter. Now it’s finally here- winter, that is, and I’m loving the crispy wind and the blue skies and all of my many cups of tea. And my pile of quilts.
It’s been a week, exactly, since Jeremy and I returned to the USA after about three weeks in Taiwan and China. Someone asked me at church on Sunday, “How was/is it being home” and I couldn’t tell at first if they asked, “How was it being home?” or “How is it being home?” because both questions applied and it really made me catch my breath before I could answer… Yes, we went home. Home was wonderful, the time in China went by too quickly but it was such a treat to see how well my family is doing, and also to be reminded of ways that I can be lifting them up. But also — it’s nice to be back home. Here, the USA… home.
Confusing? Yes. Unsettling? Potentially. But as I’ve leaped into the Old Testament this January the word “Sojourner” keeps popping up. It’s funny, because when I first returned I was chatting with a friend about the weirdness, and she sent me some references in the Word about “sojourning,” and now I’m in Genesis and Exodus and the word is everywhere.
“Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years…” (Gen 15:13)
“And the Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father…” (Gen 26:2-3)
“And Jacob said to Pharoh, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.” (Gen 47:9)
“And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah. She gave birth to a son, and he called his name Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.” (Ex 2:21-22)
“I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners…” (Ex 6:4)
Kind of neat, yes? And then today I read the Song of Moses in chapter 15 and I saw the theme again! But this time it was a reminiscing, a “looking back” if you will, to how the Lord had led his people- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses through their years and years of sojourning, and how the Lord had been so incredibly faithful throughout.
“You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode… You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain, the place, O Lord, which you have made for your abode, the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established.” (Exodus 15:13, 17)
So, throughout this new and interesting season, where home is both here and there (and therefore, nowhere here or there), I am content, because I have full confidence that the Lord is leading in His steadfast love, that he is guiding me by His strength, and that He will bring me and plant me in the places that His hands have established. How overwhelming is that?