Temporary Dwellings, Life on Earth

I calculated it yesterday: 28 months out of our last 6 years (72 months) have been spent in temporary housing of one kind or another... whether a guest flat with just the essentials, a raised wooden traditional Thai house, an ultra-modern apartment in Hong Kong, vacation rentals, or a guest home here in the US, we've had a lot of time in temporary dwellings.  We've done it around the world, and with 2, 3, 4, and 5 kids in tow.

Yesterday, it occurred to me that this earth is a temporary dwelling place.  This temporary body houses my eternal soul until I'm given an eternal body like Christ's.   When we experience resurrection to eternity with God in Heaven, these things that seem so normal and so much like "home" will seem distant, just like all of those temporary dwellings seem to me now.

So I thought, what can I learn from our experiences in temporary situations?

  1. Temporary dwellings are definitely something to be grateful for.  Each home we've stayed in has met a need... a need for medical attention, a need for rest, or maybe a need for a place to stay while something else was found & prepared for us.

    I'm thankful for life on earth, even though I know it's not all it could have been, or all it will one day be on the New Earth.
  2. Temporary dwellings can sometimes make for strange situations: like me getting locked in a small bathroom on our first night in Hong Kong, or lizards crawling across our ceiling while our newborn daughter slept in a bamboo & mesh cage to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes in Thailand (photographic evidence above and below).

    Sometimes things on earth work out strange too.... godly people struggle with infertility while the unwed druggie has multiple children.  Now we know that rain falls on the righteous and unrighteous; and drought strikes both groups too... but it can be downright weird and potentially discouraging when you happen to be in that moment where hard circumstances hit the faithful, and you see unbelievers heaped up with blessings.
  3. Temporary dwellings can be inconvenient.  Everything isn't where you think it should be.  Maybe you don't have a good knife, don't know the best places to shop, or you lack basic information or resources that everyone around you seems to have.  Even things that seem necessary may not be available.

    Boy, this relates to life here on earth as a believer, doesn't it?  Sometimes I feel like I'm just not equipped right.  I can be brash and short with people when frustrated, and I see this principle in everyone around me too.  We all have these deficiencies... not just sin, but sometimes personality foibles and quirks that make others scratch their heads (or, in 6th grade, call names).  Paul calls them "these momentary afflictions."

  4. Temporary dwellings make you feel unsettled.  This one has struck me the most, particularly while living in them.  You didn't pick the furniture, maybe you dislike the location, you don't have your favorite household items, and you're living in transition.  It's just unsettling.

    Sometimes we sense this here... our bodies wear out quickly, and we feel exhausted and used up.  We feel weary of life and tired when the hardest moments hit.  But do we really feel this way like we should?  I don't.  Even after reading (and leading a study) on Randy Alcorn's book Heaven, I tend to think of earth as "home".   

As I anticipate moving into our new home, the one I hope we'll get to live in for a long time (however long that is will be handled by the Lord, as He's always seen fit to move us around according to His purposes), I think I have this little glimpse of the excitement we should feel about Heaven... there's this place that's been prepared for us... it will suit our needs & we won't feel this constant unsettling (course, we ultimately will because we aren't in Heaven yet, but you know what I mean).  Right now, though, I just want to express gratitude for all the ways God has provided for us even in the midst of temporary situations.  He is good, and all His ways are good.


Kacie said...

Your post reminds me of 2 Corinthians 5! It's a verse that was read at my great-grandma's funeral and was one of her favorites, as she had written notes about it in her Bible.

Laura said...

Hi Jess,
Just wanted to take a moment to comment (I usually read in Google Reader and don't come to your actual site) and say I always enjoy your blog. I think you write such thought-provoking posts and are quite inspirational. I'm glad you came back to blogging and hope you don't give it up entirely but if you feel you need to then God bless you in that choice as well! Blessings, Laura

Tracy said...

This post hits so close to home! We just came back to America after spending two+ months traveling overseas and living in temporary housing. I didn't realize how "unsettled" I felt through it all until I came home and knew once again what it felt like to be settled. I wonder, like you said, if we will be the same in heaven- not realizing how trying our time here on earth was until we have walked it all the way through? So thankful that you have the opportunity to plant roots here for a time.

Tracy said...

Also, can I just say I would love to read your post about the mom you stayed with while overseas? I think it would be SO interesting and helpful.

Anna said...

I can relate. We've done the temporary housing/traveling more than I want to count! Now we've been in this house (in Africa) for a little over 2 years, but I still find myself not thinking of it as "home."

I think the good thing is that it reminds me that this world isn't supposed to be my "home" either. And the inconveniences help me see the real me, in other words, how do I respond, what comforts me- God or my familiar things, etc.

Of course, the best part is the people that I've met along the way, many of whom I now keep in touch with regularly. They make my life richer in many ways.