September 12, 2023

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.1 Corinthians 10:31

I don’t like to travel anymore.

There was a point in my life when traveling was a very glamorous proposition. Sleeping in hotels, eating in restaurants, picking up and dropping off the rental car, chasing the elusive “A” status through Southwest Airlines – I loved it all. 

But something has shifted.

Call it old (or middle) age, call it maturity, call it curmudgeonness – whatever it is, traveling has become more and more difficult for me. So when I found myself earlier this week on a trip across the country, I felt an acute sense of homesickness trying to go to sleep in a strange bed away in a strange room and an unfamiliar city.

It strikes me, though, that this sense of homesickness is also an opportunity for reflection. As much as it’s a struggle and at the risk of over-spiritualizing a simple feeling, moments like these can propel us to remember who we belong to, what we are here for, and where we belong.

Is it too much of a stretch that fairly common occurrences like this can be used by the Holy Spirit redemptively? That some longing or feeling or notion is something more than just that longing or feeling or notion? Perhaps it’s there to remind us that something isn’t quite right, and maybe we need to refocus our attention on our more significant need. In the case of homesickness, it’s an opportunity for us to confess to the Lord that this temporary feeling is just a shadow of our longing for our true home. What I’m feeling in this strange city is a reminder that we have another home. 

If homesickness is one of those instances, let me give you a couple of others:

1. Hunger. Jesus knew what it was like to be hungry. Really. Hungry. In Luke 4, we find Jesus before the launch of His public ministry. He has spent 40 days in the desert, and He has not eaten. Anything. And that’s when the devil comes to tempt Him.

Why then? Presumably, because hunger brings weakness. Perhaps there was a notion in the head of the enemy that he would find a depleted Jesus, one whose vulnerability had been heightened by the lack of food. So, hunger was what the devil seized upon: “You’re hungry, aren’t you? Well, aren’t you the Son of God? If you are, then just make some bread out of these stones.”

While Jesus may have been hungry, He was not weak. And His response reveals that hunger can serve a similar purpose for us—that when we hunger physically, we have the opportunity to turn our eyes upward: “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone” (Luke 4:4). When we are hungry, perhaps our first response should not be to reach for a Hot Pocket, but instead to confess that our greater hunger, whether we recognize it or not, is for God and Him alone. 

2. Fatigue. I feel tired. A lot. Some days, especially just in or out of the bed, it feels like I’m walking around in a haze. You know the feeling – the feeling that between being a spouse, an employee, a parent, a church member, and everything else, there’s no energy left over.

But our fatigue can also be a physical marker that forces our hearts to focus on the Lord.

Consider the words of Psalm 121: “I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber. Indeed, the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep.

What a different picture! When we are tired, we are reminded that God is not. And that the reason we can lay our heads on the pillow and rest – truly rest – is because He never does. Once again, the physical feeling illustrates a spiritual reality, and we confess real rest can only be found in Christ.

So, what do you feel right now? What are those physical sensations, and how can the physical lift your soul upward to Jesus? 

Don’t miss any opportunity to look toward Him.

Written by Michael Kelley, Guest Contributor

To read more of Michael’s writing, check out his daily blog, Forward Progress.


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