For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Hebrews 13:14
“I just want to feel settled.”
We may voice this expression with a sigh of longing or a sting of bitter lament. Does this desire to be settled find echoes in your own heart?
The prospect of settling down captivates us. We’re preoccupied by that nagging, aching sense of uprootedness. We feel that we ought to have this unsettled feeling settled. And no wonder, for we were made for a lasting city. The problem is not with our feeling unsettled. The problem is with our settling for the feeling of being settled. We are citizens of a city that has foundations, whose designer and architect is God. The new creation is more than a feeling.
But for now, we live here, pilgriming on our way to the celestial city. Like a heckling salesman who calls out to passersby, the world offers us various forms of relief. Consumerism, perhaps, is the world’s loudest siren song. “You don’t feel settled? This stuff will make you feel settled.” Put a Christian-sounding twist on it, and the siren song lulls us into worldly contentment, “This stuff will turn your home into your refuge.”
Generation by generation, the people of Israel were exhorted to make God their refuge. Whether they were settled in the land flowing with milk and honey, or uprooted in captivity, the Lord was to be their refuge. We, too, as “aliens and strangers” in this world that is passing away, need to remember that here we have no lasting city but we seek the city that is to come. Our home is not our refuge; God is our refuge. The consequences of forgetting this are grim. In our quest to consume enough stuff to make our home our refuge, we are consumed. In time, we may come to live for the kingdom we can see with our eyes, instead of the one that Jesus assured us is on its way.
When we are confident that we have no lasting city here, we are not devastated when our stuff crumbles to pieces or our earthly home is moved. When we seek the city that is to come, we free our homes from the shackles of being our refuge. We will model to our children that home is where Christ is. Our homes will be less like retreats and more like networks of foxholes for planning and hosting kingdom advances into this present darkness.
Fixate on numbing the desire to feel settled here, and you may miss the opportunity to have a holy discontentment with this world that is passing away. Set your heart on the city that is to come, and see the missional leverage of your home and resources bear fruit that lasts in eternity.
Suggestions for Prayer
- Pray God would cultivate gratefulness in your heart for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.
- Pray God would show you the ways you have longed for a worldly kingdom, and repent.
- Pray God would give you a longing for the city that is to come, and a desire to use your resources in light of the coming kingdom.
Gloria Furman is a wife, mother of four, cross-cultural worker, and writer. In 2008 her family moved to the Middle East to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai where her husband, Dave, serves as the pastor. She is the author of Glimpses of Grace, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, The Pastor’s Wife, Missional Motherhood, and Alive in Him (forthcoming).