You may know that phrase from the title of a novel that tells the story of George Webber, who writes a book that makes frequent references to his home town. The book was a national success but the residents of the town, unhappy with what they view as Webber’s distorted depiction of them, send the author menacing letters and death threats. Yes, it is an obscure reference, hopefully it will make sense as I conclude.
I’m writing this from a coffee bar in South Africa that, thankfully, serves good coffee but more importantly has free wi-fi, which I have come to realize is actually a commodity just as important as the right mixture of espresso and foamed milk.
I have just spent 3 days in an amazing game farm, taking in all the best Africa has to offer, exquisite sunrise game drives, sunset sun-downers on the savanna, met my nephews and nieces for the first time and reconnected with my brother whom I last saw 11 years ago briefly at my mom’s funeral. I have realized that you cant go home again, NOT for the same reasons as George Webber at all, I have great friendships, partnerships and family in South Africa. I enjoy being here, but its not home any more.
Today is Thanksgiving. It is my favorite Holiday as we (in the USA) set aside a day to spend with family, celebrate and count our blessings. A time to remember that we are simply stewards, of our bodies, families, material possessions. I have had much time to ponder what I am grateful for here, there is no Football to obsess over, no frantic cooking of a turkey, no pumpkin spice in the air, in fact today has been a very ordinary day. Ironically I find myself alone (the girls are in Cape Town while I wait for the team from the US to join me here) and recovering from an emergency dental procedure completed this morning. It has been a very Unthanksgiving kind of day.
So why can’t I go home again? I recognized that even though this trip has been an amazing gift, South Africa is not home any more, in fact she has not been home for many years. Today, I am quite uncharacteristically emotional, I am homesick. I find myself praying for the situations in Ferguson and in Cleveland. I am praying for our 2 communities gathering on Sunday to thank God for His faithfulness and His grace. I am a very thankful man. When I think of our 12 years in the States these are just a couple of the things that I am exceptionally grateful for:
- A nation that has embraced me.
- Southlands. A community of faith that loves Jesus and wants to be a blessing to their city.
- Friendships that challenge, shape, encourage and motivate me and make me laugh.
- Friends that have become my girls family, grandfathers, uncles and big sisters all without a blood connection.
- A God that would trust me with the joy and privilege of shepherding His most prize possession, the Bride of His Son.
Maybe you can’t go home again, but I thank God that when we are on adventure with Him, we have the opportunity to experience many “homes.”