Living a displaced life

I’ve been working my way through Malcolm Muggeridge’s book, Jesus Rediscovered. I can’t read such works fast, as I have to chew on his words slowly, making sure I understand where he’s coming from and what he wants to say. Unlike modern books, each page is full of words, not white space, so I find myself going slowly, like through piled up snow.

Describing his heritage and background, Muggeridge talks about the concept of feeling a stranger in a strange land, until as an adult, he heard the term “displaced person” when describing those affected by war. He says they were people “loose in the world–without nationality, or place of residence, or even identity; only a vague awareness of being ostensibly such and such a person, born of such parents, at such a time, and now no one and belonging nowhere.”

He ponders this state of being and then realizes that he too is a displaced person, and has been one since the beginning. Then he declares that “Christianity is pre-eminently for DPs, and therefore for me.”

I love this thought, and while it is not new to me, I like the use of the word displaced. You may recall the concept of being a stranger in a strange land, and while I agree with this as well, displaced has a different connotation for me.

Displaced means “out of place” or “not in the place it should be or normally would be.” This rings true to me on several levels, for I’ve felt the earthly displacement of living in a country “not my own.” I know what it means to be in the minority, to live somewhere where I don’t speak the language, without my family, alone. It’s not an easy feeling, and I know how special it is when you make a connection with another, whether through an understood word, a helpful hand, or an act of simple kindness.

When I visit with members of my own church, most of whom are immigrants, I see the looks, hear the fears, and share the tears that come naturally from being far from their land of birth and loved ones.

Yet even as I returned to my own land after being 20 years away from her borders, I felt a new feeling…not one of being home, but of being an outsider. And, as Muggeridge found, I realized I had been a displaced person from birth. Why? Was it because my country had changed, or my years overseas had changed me?

No, I am a displaced person, because my true place is in a land I have yet to visit. I’ve had a glimpse in the words of Christ and of John in Revelation, but I’ve yet to see the place that is now only in my hopes and dreams. I look forward to the day when I’m no longer displaced but in-place, in the arms my Lord. As Saint Augustine said:

Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.

I’m not there yet, and no matter where I roam in this world, my displaceness follows me. So, what do I do? Do I fret? Do I despair in the world of suffering and pain? No, I cannot. My destiny is set, my sojourn short-term, my mission sure. I must share the good news about the place to come, for many have yet to know its promise, its surety or its standard bearer.

Are you feeling displaced, or are you settled and sure? If your home is here, in this temporal world, if you’re set and satisfied, consider this: tomorrow may bring the end of what you know.

Where will you go?

Better displaced now, than later. Make your home in Him.

Grace and Peace


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