I thought about titling this post “Reflections on Being Homeless” but I couldn’t bring myself to equate the content of this post to being forced to live on the street and struggle to survive. There. Conscience cleared.
Squatters are people who are forced to find a new place to be – to live, to work, to sleep – every day. They typically find unclaimed space or space that hasn’t been claimed YET and plant a stake there.
This is my territory. For now. That may change tomorrow.
As Parkview’s office area was being renovated this past week, I was put in the role of squatter when my office was closed off for construction purposes. As you can see in the picture, without a ceiling and with everything covered in plastic nothing productive was happening in that room. I searched out bare cubicles, unclaimed tables & conference rooms. Like a scavenger.
The whole experience prompted me to think about Israel. If you read the Old Testament, what you see is a people who are promised a land to live in – with safety and provision from God Himself – yet had to go through a period of “squatting” to get there.
Pitching tents in the desert. Eating whatever God would provide them on that day. Bedouins. Nomads. Headed for home.
What has happened to people over history, and what continues to happen today, is that when we find ourselves rooted and settled in a place for a long period of time, we become comfortable with that place.
This is my chair. This is my spot.
We can even translate that concept to our inner & outer spiritual life.
This is how I pray. This is how God speaks to me. This is the relationship that holds me accountable.
In a world of change, in a world of brokenness and people and systems that will fail, this becomes a sticky place to be.
Contentment is good, as long as we are content that things will change. And that change is oftentimes a good thing. If we aren’t hearing God the same way, it’s because our relationship with Him is evolving. Just as a mother cannot talk to her 13 year old daughter in the same manner she used when that daughter was 3 years old, growth in maturity in Christ makes it necessary for us to pick up the tents and move.
We are spiritual nomads at particular seasons in our life. We need to embrace that in order to grow in love, joy, peace and all the other fruit.
I didn’t handle my squatting period well. For the first two days of office exile, I made it work. But on the third day, instead of rising from the grave of my comfortable habits and familiar haunts, I began to head back into the tomb. I got anxious. Disjointed. Irritated. I just wanted to go home.
These are mirror-image thoughts for the ways in which we progress through growing pains in our spiritual life – it isn’t that our “office” (relationship with God, relationship with others, etc.) has disappeared and no longer exists, we are simply asked to create new ways of relating to it.
The greatest moments of growth into Christlikeness come when we are able to embrace the evolution, lean into the nomadic movements God calls us toward, and know that growing pains equal growth. And growth is rich and holy.
Are you experiencing pain in your relationship with God? Do you feel like a squatter wandering in the wilderness, wondering how you lost the coordinates to the promised land? Hold on – the construction is proceeding as planned, and the Spirit will welcome you home stronger and wiser than you were when you embarked on this journey.