“The world’s thy ship and not thy home.” –St. Therese of Lisieux
You may have noticed that things have been more quiet than usual here. It is not by choice. Through a series of circumstances beyond our control, we are in the midst of moving again after having lived in our current home only six months. A number of other circumstances and events have all converged as well, making it difficult to have the time or energy to write.
Now, I don’t say all this to complain. I have been blessed greatly in the past few weeks, stressful though they have been, and in my experience, when God crushes you in the wine press, it is to make wine.
But while we are confident that our Lord is up to something good, I will admit that having to move again on short notice has been disappointing. Frankly, we had planned to stay in our current place for the next several years, even throwing away the moving boxes we had been saving just in case. We have moved a lot in our relatively short married life, and we were looking forward to some stability, which certainly isn’t wrong. But in the words of the great Scot Robert Burns, “the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley.”
Yet, there is an important lesson to be learned in such circumstances that is difficult for us to remember when we have the illusion that we are safely in control of our lives: This world is not our home. The saints frequently admonish us to detachment from the things of this world, and they remind us that, while we may often think otherwise, this earth is not our final destination. As St. Paul says in his letter to the Hebrews, the saints are saints because, through faith, “they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”
How easy it is to forget heaven when everything is going our way, when everything seems safe and comfortable! We fall so easily into complacency and spiritual laziness. I think that often, God likes to disrupt our plans because he knows we are apt to fall more in love with the journey than the destination. And if we are honest, we will admit that we do. It is rather like longing for a hotel more than for home—it makes no sense.
But because he is infinitely good, God doesn’t want us to settle for lesser joys. Truly, he desires our everlasting happiness, and he knows that nothing on this earth will satisfy us like he can. “In your presence is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forever more” (Ps. 16:11). When he sees us growing too comfortable, our Father unsettles us simply to remind us that our hearts will never be at rest until they rest in him. In the changing circumstances of this life, let us strive to learn this lesson well.
I began this post with a quote from St. Therese of Lisieux. I will end it with a quote from another great saint of the same name:
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.
— St. Teresa of Avila
The Catholic Gentleman.