Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A few thoughts on sojourning

“And Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many are the days of the years of your life?” And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “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.”” Genesis 47:8,9 ESV

I had to move, yet again. Not for any fault of mine—the family I house sat for and with whom I expected to stay until my leave date unexpectedly had some relatives coming from India for an extended visit. When they would leave, no one was sure. I had two weeks to find a new place to stay. I was welcome to move into their guesthouse should I choose, but since it was a little farther away from my locus of activity, I thought it best to look elsewhere.

An American family, working at an international school and living not far from my office, kindly offered me a place in their home. Only, I would be on the couch for about a week—they had a secondary student staying in their guestroom whose parents were at a conference abroad. So, my books and I have taken up temporary residence in their TV room, complete with a VHS player (that unfortunately doesn’t work), a sewing machine and various crafty/scrapbooking supplies piled along the walls.

Wide-awake at 3AM, with no electricity, all I could do was stare at the dark above and ask God “Why? You know how much moving stresses me out! It should be a lifestyle by now, but no, I actually rather like staying in one place.”

I couldn’t help but think again about pilgrimages and sojourning. And God has kindly brought this subject up in my quiet times. When I think about it, the subject is all over the Bible—Abraham being told to go to a land that he did not know; Jacob fleeing Esau and working fourteen years at his uncle’s place before returning to Canaan and then moving to Egypt to escape famine; Joseph being sold to his brothers and going to Egypt, not to mention all the ups and downs he had in Egypt; Israel sojourning in Egypt for generations; Moses fleeing Pharaoh then coming back to Egypt; the great Exodus, and wandering in the desert for 40 years; David fleeing Saul; Daniel and the exile to Babylon; Nehemiah and Ezra and the Israelites coming back to the Promise Land. The list could go on. Exile, sojourning and a hope for a better place are still written in the history of the Jewish people.

And the reference in Hebrews 11:13-16: “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland, if they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”

“So, Tori, where is home for you?” Pankaj asked me one evening as he took me home from his place after watching the TV airing of the Sprite Band Challenge (a rock band competition that a band from the music school I worked at two summers ago was competing in). He had asked me whether I felt more “at home” in Nepal or the States, and I truthfully answered that neither place was completely “home.”

“Heaven of course!” was my answer.