A while back I read A Place to Land by Kate Motaung with Come Away Book Club. The best thing about this book club; you don’t choose what you read, so I have read books that I may well have never picked myself.
A Place to Land is a compilation of stories of Kate’s life, from growing up in Michigan; experiencing her parents divorce, going to college, her first missionary trip and more. Then moving to Cape Town for her studies as a young student, only to meet her future husband; experiencing first love, new cultures, marriage, the death of her mother, adoption, motherhood, moving rental homes and even more. All the stories are linked together with her feeling torn; torn between her family and life in South Africa, and her life and family in America.
I related to so much of that, as I know many, many people will. Having grown up in South Africa, I moved to England at 21 and spent 10 years of my adult life there. When I moved back to South Africa in 2013, I thought I was moving back home, yet I soon realized that maybe I had left my real home, England, behind. I hadn’t realized just how much England had become home to me. I then met my husband in 2014; now this marriage would surely make South Africa home? It didn’t. Since 2018, we have been expats on a contract in Zambia; this was never meant to be home, it’s meant to be an adventure, and we are foreigners here. Some days it really does feel like home! When I go back to South Africa, I spend half my time feeling like a tourist and half feeling completely at home, and I know when I visit England in December, I will do exactly the same.
After a full decade of seemingly continuous moves, I finally felt as though my hesitant and lax attitude toward “settling” gradually improved. Regardless of how long or short my stay might be in any particular abode, I’ve come to accept that each new place I land is one of the legs of my journey that the Lord has planned for me. He determined before time the exact periods and places I would live (Acts 17:26). Even if there may be several stops and a vast array of camping sites while I remain in my earthly tent, where I camp now is one more step allotted for me in the steady trip toward home. Every day, I’m one step closer to eternity.
Taken from page 265 of a Place to Land by Kate Motaung
It was the final pages of Kate’s book that resonated with me the most. We are not meant to feel at home here, in whichever country we find ourselves, because this isn’t home; our home is with Christ, in eternity. If we seek God in all that we do, it won’t matter which continent, country, town or even house we are in; because our eyes will be so fixed on Him that those details around us will soon become very small details as we will be seeing a bigger picture.
God took the tug-of-war that waged in my soul, the thick rope that spanned across the ocean, and yanked from both sides. He cut it clean through the middle, somewhere over the depths of the Atlantic. And He made me look up. To see that the greatest and strongest pull is neither east nor west, neither here nor there. It’s the heavenward pull. It’s the pull toward home.
Taken from page 266 of a Place to Land by Kate Motaung
So what I have learnt, not just since reading Kate’s book, but since moving to Zambia; it could be quite easy as expats to protect ourselves from close relationships, and not invest ourselves in community, because we know at any point we may well have to pack our bags. It could be so easy to not plant the tree, because we might not see it bear fruit. It could be so easy to keep saying “one day when we” or “remember when we”, rather than seeing the places and people that have been placed in our path, today, and saying “thank you God for placing me right here, right now”.
Let’s make a choice to grow where we are planted; let light shine through our branches, let’s scatter seeds, nourish each other and help each other bloom and bear fruit. Love, and let yourself be loved by those around you, it’s how we grow best. It’s so worth it!
When that final day comes, it won’t matter how many places I have seen, where I have lived, how many hours I worked, how much I saved up for retirement or even where I will retire. What will matter; did I accept Christ; did I love as He loves me?