Something happened this past week, though it happened so gradually that I was taken by surprise this morning when I found myself thinking simply, This is so beautiful, rather than, This is so beautiful, but back home . . .
I realised something odd yesterday: When I’m on vacation with my family, I immediately start calling our lodging “home,” but here in Switzerland, I haven’t started calling the apartment “home” yet. “Home” is still Lincoln, Nebraska.
That thought came to me as I walked through the vineyards of Lavaux with three amazing friends. I looked at the clouds swallowing the mountains, their reflections rippling in the lake below, and I thought, Why can’t this be home? We ate our picnic looking at that lake, sipping our wine and talking about God and the amazing things He does in our lives. When I got on the train to head home, that’s exactly what I thought: I’m going home. That in and of itself is a small miracle.
I spent the afternoon at home with Yaciana making brownies and talking about God. In the evening when we sat down to a Thai curry I thought, Here’s adaptability. This is the same recipe I’d make at home, but I made it with different measurements and different ingredients in a different place to share with different people. The revelation was that the difference doesn’t have to make it less like home.
In short, I’m home now. Yes, I’m still a cultural outsider who has to ask my living Swiss encyclopaedia (Yaciana) when something doesn’t make sense. I’m still a linguistic outsider taking cues from the native speakers around me and fumbling vous and tu. I’m a kind of temporary expat being asked to represent my country and culture to inquisitive acquaintances. I’m often aware of the end dates on this experience: when my fellow exchange students leave, when I leave. But in a country full of multiple languages and cultures, I’m discovering home.
That doesn’t mean I don’t miss Nebraska—don’t worry, friends! I do, along with being able to drive, measuring ingredients in cups, and having space to breathe. More than anything, I miss people—loads of them, so much so that it hurts. Thanks to technology, I can still talk to many (Yay for NWU French Table on Friday night! Praise God for John MacArthur podcasts and 2Pillars sermon audio and my Gospel Community group! And what would I do without WhatsApp?).
God works in amazing ways. He called me all the way to Switzerland to find a new home, and for what purpose? Right now, only He knows. What I know is this: He is at work. He’s changing me, refining me, showing me my idols and asking me to lay them down, taking away my familiar comforts to have me seek Him more.
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Today, the pastor preached from these verses, adding at the end: “To live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ is to be a moon reflecting the light of the Sun. The world’s way of thinking will do nothing but obscure the light that is Christ; we must turn to Jesus and make His mentality and His thoughts ours. We must be full moons reflecting the light of the Sun” (paraphrased and translated by yours truly).
Today, the sun shone beautifully. I’ve never seen a world more perfectly coloured than today—everything was blue and green, and the most vivid hues you can imagine. “Life is short; I want to live it well,” sings Switchfoot. And who am I living for? Christ. To quote Paul in the opening chapter of Philippians—for me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Oh the liberty! I have nothing to fear; I am free.
Life is short; I want to live it well.
I want to sing with all my heart a lifelong song
Even if some notes come out right and some come out wrong
‘Cause I can’t take none of that through the door
Yeah, I’m living for more than just a funeral
I wanna burn brighter than the dawn.
Until next week, my dear friends. I very much appreciate any and all messages from you! And I encourage you all to listen to Switchfoot and read Philippians. Life is short. Life is Christ, and Christ is our freedom. We’re free, my friends.
I want to see you all shining brightly, reflecting the light of the Son (I’m so glad we get to play on that in English!).
Oh, and the real reason you all read to the end—pictures! Here are the photos from Lavaux yesterday. The password is “suisse”.