I arrived in NZ for the first time a year ago today.
The Maori immigration officer greeted me with "Welcome to your new home...". He stamped my passport and sealed a legal process that had been started a few months earlier - I secured my 'right' to permanent residence in arriving here.
This last year my thoughts have often turned to 'home' and where do I, where do we, belong?
We've lived in various people's homes as guests, moved from a house to a caravan to another house; travelled thousands of miles in planes, boats and cars; met hundreds of new people; experienced new foods, places, cultures, customs and traditions.
I've seen sin in my life held up to scrutiny as unfamiliar surrounds have given opportuntiy to see afresh and appreciate anew who I am and what I'm like: removing the excuse that sin arises because of external circumstances - I face sin regardless of which side of the equator I'm on or the company I keep.
We have seen God provide for us: spiritually - in reminding us of the sufficiency of grace and the power of the gospel, in opening up our hearts to grow in repentance and truth and in moving people to pray for us; financially as old friends and new partners in the gospel have sacrifically given to meet our needs; practically in a million and one ways thus demonstrating that His glory is the most important thing in the universe. We have had all that we have needed; and often far more than that.
I have come to realise that I belong here - wherever here is: God has provided this day, this hour and this place and ordained it for His praise, His glory and His honour. Every day, every place, every person is a gift - a gift from His glory for His glory, and it is an amazing privilege to witness it and be a part of it.
Dan recently blogged 150 reasons to give thanks - it made me think and repent. Too often over the last year, as I've thought about where I belong, as I've faced up to the opporunities and the challenges that we have faced as a family I have more often thought about the cost to me, to my family, the inconveniences and the losses. I have not given thanks in the profound ways that God deserves.
Once again a hymn expresses it more aptly than I could on my own:
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
For from him and through him and to him are all things.