Growing up as a military kid, change and transition have been normal parts of my life. By the time I was I middle school, I had lived in seven different states. Right before my senior year of high school, my family moved to Germany. One year later, I decided to attend seminary in Belgium. I lived there for six years and spent the first part of my adult life in another country. After my husband and I graduated with our master’s degrees, we decided to move back to the States. Even though I moved back to a familiar country, there were still a lot of things to learn and adjustments to make. I had to get my drivers’ license and buy my first car, figure out American health insurance, and learn how to be an adult in my “home” country. We missed our friends and community in Belgium and had to start over from scratch in a new place, which was the hardest part about the transition.
Transition is not just about moving locations or changing responsibilities, but it is fundamentally about finding new ways of belonging in a new environment. It’s making a new home in a new place with new connections to new people. This can be stressful and unfamiliar, because it’s a new way of living and being in the world, carving new pathways for new rhythms that don’t fit the old way of doing things. Transition is a liminal space where we are already in a new space but not yet fully belonging to that space. In many ways, this is the space in which every follower of Jesus constantly lives. We are in this world but not of it; we are part of a kingdom that is present among us but not yet in its fullness.
When I think about living in this kind of tension, I think of Abraham. Abraham was a sojourner, a man who left his home at a late stage in his life to go to a land God promised to him. Heb. 11:8-10 (NIV) says, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
Even as Abraham left his home to build a new home, he knew that even his new home was not his permanent home. There was something more to look forward to—a city with eternal foundations, built by God Himself. As he lived in a tent, untethered to a place to call his own, Abraham found a rootedness in God and the promise God was fulfilling for him. He found belonging with other heirs of the promise and with the covenant-making God as he lived as a stranger in a foreign country. God was his homeland. This sense of belonging to God and the place God was creating for Him gave him the courage to press forward amidst uncertainty and vulnerability.
So even as we face transition in our own lives, we don’t have to fear a lack of belonging or grounding. We are citizens of heaven, belonging to an eternal kingdom that we can begin to experience even now. When transition makes us feel unsteady, we can still boldly walk out a life of faith, because our home is in God Himself.