"Dear friends, I warn you as temporary residents and foreigners, to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls" (1 Peter 2:11) NLT
A deliciously steamy day, shimmering with mirages over hot soil. With a song in my heart I bounce down the rocky road, slowing for a flock of white goats to pass at a lazy, unperturbed pace. I turn the wheels sharply up "Winding Line", which winds its steep and crooked way through the trees, in typical Hogsback style. Next to the road, with hands neatly folded, a threesome wait for their rattling chariot. They board with huffs and puffs and we set off for the next stop. With all passengers aboard, I glance in the rear view mirror - four generations of beautiful woman, from about seven to seventy something. The smallest catches my eye in the mirror; "Don't you have a job Auntie Maria?" she asks, eyes as innocent as the dawn. I search for words, old insecurities crawling in through the window. My dear friend answers without hesitation: "Of coarse she has sweetheart, she's a mommy!" Relief and confidence flow through me, as doubt is firmly shoved out the window again. Such I am, even though being a mother is still not what defines me, even if it occupies most of my waking (and sleeping) hours.
We all have thoughts about what it is that defines us, our destiny, where we belong on this crazy planet. The answer to the latter question is: we don't. What defines me? Who I am in Christ. What is my destiny? Heaven! Easily said, but for now, while I live in this "foreign" land, there must be some kind of a purpose that gives my days structure, besides the mundane (and joyful) tasks and passing pleasures of this life? There certainly is: To Seek the Kingdom of God above all else and live righteously; and he will give you everything you need. (Matthew 6:33)
We certainly manage to complicate things by trying to "fit in". I've had a lifelong battle with "feeling peculiar". As an unexpected "laatlammetjie"(youngest child of a family, born to older parents and much younger than siblings), I struggled to relate to "the others" until I was much older. As an awkward child of immigrants with a weird surname, I had to endure a fair amount of mocking during the days when xenophobia was still well and alive in this fair land. I did not "date" with the rest, rather loved to hide in the dove-cote or up a tree with a book. The list goes on.
But then we moved to Hogsback and suddenly I felt like I was amongst people that I "get". I marvelled at their boldness in being different, their seeming indifference to the need to conform. But slowly it became apparent that even in this there was a hidden formula. If you try so hard to be different, in many ways you become frighteningly similar to the one next to you, also striving to be different. Once again, I felt the edges of my puzzle piece straining to form part of the whole I so longed for.
To trim this tale of woe, I can now say with a joy that I can actually not express, that it all doesn't matter. What I do know is that "Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Pet 2:10) So this means that if I feel "peculiar" it is probably for the best reason. The ways of the world have allure, but it is, and has never been, God's way. For the one that rules this present world is the prince of darkness, and conforming to the world is to conform to his likeness.
This may not be something that we do consciously, but subtly it shapes itself into a need that we strive to fulfil without even questioning why. It just feels good to have the right set of wheels, the perfect home, career, education etc. There is no judgement in this, but if God is not the first priority, then my plumb-line can never be true.
A home built on an uneven foundation may look grand at first, but when the storms come, as they inevitably do, cracks appear.
Since my own body is a spiritual home for the Holy Spirit in Christ, I would want my "temple" to be built on a solid foundation. Worldly desires WAR against our very souls, which are kept in these precious temples, which cannot be a home to Christ as well as home to him that is in the world.