BY STEVE DUNN
For the first time in my life I am homeless at Christmas.
This is my 61st Christmas.
Before you get overly concerned, I am not sleeping my car nor have I had to go stay in a shelter. I am not homeless in that sense. In late June I resigned my pastorate to seek God’s next chapter in my life and anticipating that this would require us to move, Dianne and I put our house up for sale. We sold it in 28 days to someone who sold their eight days later. On September 28th we closed on the house and moved out.
As a result, still without a new pastorate or ministry to move to and not wanting to be locked into a lease in the wrong location, we ceased having a fixed state of residence. I conduct seminars on church renewal and evangelism, and I do some church consulting and speaking; so we have lived “on the road in hotels” 24 days these past three months. We have house sat for two pastoral friends as they took a combined seven weeks of vacation. And early last week we moved in with other oldest daughter and husband in Kentucky for an extended Christmas holiday. In early January we will return to the last pastor’s home where we continue to occupy a bedroom and storage space when we have to be “settled” for the part-time work Dianne and I still do to pay the bills.
So really we have had a multiplicity of places to call “home” temporarily without fear of eviction. We still have a place to receive mail forwarded from our P.O. box.
But the transience of our current existence takes adjusting. Right now I am 550 miles from my storage units, so a book I might need or a fresh Christmas tie are really beyond my reach. We still need to adjust our eating schedules to fit the homes we are in (unless we want to go out to eat, which has already gotten old). There is no place to just dump our stuff if we get lazy because other persons have uses for those locations in their houses. People who learn we have no place of residence and know that it is because of a choice we made still look at us strangely, as if we are out our minds or at least, very eccentric.
And we have to live daily very much by faith because most of the time that is our only choice.
This is the first Christmas that I have truly identified with Mary and Joseph on that cold winter’s night in overcrowded Bethlehem. Because I plan, own a cell phone, and have money; I am not confronted with “there’s no room in the inn.” But I think I identify what they feeling.
Here we are in Bethlehem. It’s cold and late and we are tired. We’re doing what Caesar has ordered and this stable is not what we desired. We are part of a mission that God has given us, but people back in Nazareth have a different assessment of that. Will Joseph ever be a respected carpenter again? And wouldn’t Mary have a safer delivery if she could have been at least in the home of Elizabeth?
There is so much that is beyond our control and we are uncomfortable with that reality. The future is so uncertain. We don’t even know where we will sleep tomorrow. And God doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to give us a plan. Yes, we trust him; but it’d be nice to have a little more control.
And when God’s plan is finally fulfilled, how will our lives be changed. This pregnancy has already changed a whole lot about our lives, and the birth is only the beginning.
Things are so uncertain now. It would be nice to have a sign…..
” And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told”. – Luke 2.12-20
Perhaps you, too, are on a journey that God has called you to, but the uncertainty is a little too uncertain. As you travel life’s road this Christmas – homeless or not – may you see the sign of God’s peace and purpose in your lives.
(C) 2012 by STEPHEN L DUNN