JOHN 18:36 (ESV) | “Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’”
Scratched on the outer wall of my high school was the word “penitentiary”, and that is exactly what it felt like. Because I lived in Japan for most of the first 14 years of my life and attended an international school for much of that time, I was utterly unprepared for what awaited me in an American public high school. While there, dealing with both physical and emotional abuse became a part of my everyday routine.
However, these issues were not at the forefront of the emotional and spiritual crisis that consumed my life. The leading cause of my crisis focused primarily on not knowing the answer to the question, “Where are you from?” also synonymous with “Where is home?”
It took me over six years to figure out the answer to this question. During that time, I came to multiple conclusions and eventually found what I was looking for. Sitting in a coffee shop with my pastor, I finally realized that heaven was ultimately home and wondered how this answer had never come up before.
Although I found it discouraging that I had not found this out sooner, it made me realize that home is not a thing to be possessed. Rather, it is something that we seek continually. Like Jesus said, we are members of a kingdom that is not a part of this world. And yet, we often become so caught up in our own daily lives that whatever we are working on, be it good or bad, captures all of our attention.
I believe that a major reason that high school went the way it did for me was because I was so emotionally isolated during that time. I allowed myself to become completely alone, and — combined with an addictive personality — I became self-destructive, thus perpetuating my downward spiral. I had forgotten my citizenship in the Kingdom of God.
I have since found strong Christian friends with whom I can be completely honest and transparent. This has been extremely helpful for me. In fact, my most frequent prayer for others is that they know that they are not alone, that Jesus walks with them, and that they find others around them to encourage them. And as we all learn to walk with Jesus, our hearts discover the path to our true home in heaven.
QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION
- Think about what you say when you talk about your home. I no longer use the term “home” to refer to a physical place, because whenever I have, I know I am lying. Consider what it would mean to talk about your home as a place of belonging in the Kingdom of God.
- How do you respond to the question, “How are you?” If a trusted Christian friend asks this in an intentional way, the answer should always be a conversation. Take advantage of a moment this week to engage in an authentic conversation with someone.
- Meditate on times when God’s plan seemed “wrong” and find why it was “right”. Ask others to help you think through those times.
This reading is a part of our "Small Feet Big Shoes" devotional series. You can also sign up to receive these meditations by email.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eric Hederstedt is the son of Roger and Julie Hederstedt, who lead CRM's efforts throughout Southeast Asia. Eric is a recent graduate of Hope College in Holland, Michigan. While in college, he discovered the ways in which God was working in his high school years to prepare him for the future and now understands that God knows so much more about what is best for him than he does.