Spiritual Disciplines: The Holy Habit of Homesickness (@longingtobeholy)

Ok, so perhaps you’re thinking I’m really taking liberties here.  Since when is homesickness a spiritual discipline?  I know, some of my previous ‘disciplines’ were a bit off the beaten track, but surely this one is just proof that I’ve finally flipped…  Well, bear with me.

This month here at BigBible, we’ve been concentrating on the book of Daniel.  Daniel starts with a bunch of people being wrenched out of their homeland and plonked in the heartland of their captors.  They’re given Babylonian education and Babylonian food under Babylonian oversight.  They’re effectively being assimilated into Babylonian society.  But from the very outset, Daniel (and his friends) stand out.  They don’t fight, they don’t try to escape, but they do refuse to be fully assimilated.  Although they’re living in a foreign land, under foreign rule, they’re not submitting themselves fully – they’re choosing to align themselves still with their homeland.  They eat and worship differently.  They faithfully serve the rulers of Babylon, but they never turn away from the God of their home.

Daniel 9 is the somewhat poignant prayer of Daniel as he wrestles with the loss of his home.  Despite the fact that Daniel was prospering during Darius’ reign, his heart is still elsewhere.  In a sense, he’s homesick.  He recognises the righteousness of God’s actions.  It’s not that he’s not content with where he is, it’s simply that he yearns to be home.  He’s getting on with life where God has placed him, but is at the same time longing for the restoration of his city and his people, because they bear the name of his God.

How is this a holy habit that we might develop?  Perhaps it’s a willingness to be counter-cultural:  Daniel refused the choicest foods, would we do the same in his circumstances, or would we consider them to be our right?  Perhaps it’s a willingness to harbour a yearning for God’s name to be glorified, and a longing to be home with Him.  Not a lack of contentment, no, nor a resentment of where He has placed us, but an acknowledgement that we will never be fully at home in this sin-ravaged world.  Perhaps it’s a willingness to ‘rebel’ against the negative aspects of digital culture.

Elsewhere in our Bibles, we read of someone being placed far from home by God, ‘for such a time as this’ (Esther) or being called to ‘seek the prosperity of the city’ (Jeremiah), but here in Daniel, there’s a sense in which, although he’s willing to serve in the place God’s put him, Daniel keeps his roots in another place altogether.  We can live in the digital world, and make a difference here, but this is not our home.

PART OF: G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection  REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Babylon didn’t last for ever – not a good permanent home…       

The book of Daniel ends with these words:  “As for you, go your way till the end.  You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance”.  One day we, like Daniel, will be called home.  A home that will last.

Are we rooted here, or at home?

Photo: Public Domain. PART OF: G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

About Nick Parish

Nick is a stay at home Dad who’s slowly learning that this fact doesn’t need to be justified by adding things like, ‘I’m writing a book’, and ‘I’m a Special Constable with Derbyshire Police’ (though both these facts are true…) He is heavily outnumbered by girls during term time, living in a boarding school in the Midlands. He grew up (ish) in Pakistan, returning to England at the age of 14. Though he’s happy to think of both places at home, he keeps reminding himself that he’ll never really be home this side of eternity. He is married to Anna, who runs the boarding house in which they live, and they have two boys, Joshua and Luke. He blogs at longingtobeholy.wordpress.com and Tweets @longingtobeholy