NEWS reports tell us almost every night about people who are seeking to get or to retain a homeland. Palestinians, Kurds, ethnic Albanians, and many others are engaged in this struggle. In a similar context, perhaps you or those you love have expressed a longing to find a place where you ``fit in, where you feel you belong.
For some people, the desire for a homeland is tied up with a particular spot on the planet. For others, it is simply a place that is safe or one where an individual can find the opportunity for freedom and progress. In either case, prayer can help us find our own sense of belonging and also let us reach out to others around the globe.
The Bible has much to say about what is involved in finding a homeland as it describes the Israelites' quest for a home. And although their journey seemed to be the search for a particular place, it actually related specifically to their growing understanding of God, of His love for His people, and of the goodness that comes from Him.
Abraham was the patriarch who actually began that voyage toward a homeland and a deeper understanding of God. He was inspired to leave his native land and look for a new place, which was promised to him by God. In accepting this goal, Abraham began to understand that there is truly just one God, and he developed a new relationship with Him.
Speaking of Abraham's quest, the writer of the book of Hebrews in the Bible says, ``By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. He continues, ``For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Abraham's faith wasn't just a matter of crossing his fingers and hoping for the best. Instead, he was actively turning to God for guidance. And as he did this, he found that God was with him wherever he went. To put it another way, he found the comfort of ``home--of belonging --through his relationship to God. And this sense of God's presence in his life wasn't tied to a particular location.
Abraham also learned that when he tried to rely on human reason or trickery, his problems multiplied. His willingness to obey God and to trust His promises grew as he experienced God's care in his life.
Each of us can also know that God is with us wherever we are. And however lonely the place we are in at any moment, our willingness to turn to God in prayer will direct us to the steps we need to take in order to find our rightful home. And as we broaden our prayers to include those seeking a homeland, we can know that God is with each individual and that no one can be cut off from divine Love.
This spiritual fact is true because there really is only one God and this one God loves all His children. Indeed, Christ Jesus taught us to call God ``our Father, and through his teachings and ministry he proved that this potent knowledge of God restores and heals.
In practical terms this means that God truly provides for all of us as His children. No one can be separated from His goodness or deprived of His love. What seems to keep us from an opportunity or from the homeland we long for is actually the belief that we are material and that the good we seek is finite and limited. Such a belief may mislead us into believing that somehow God's goodness is distant or not meant for us. Yet Jesus proved over and over again that good is truly infinite and that if we are w illing to trust God, we will have whatever we need.
Sometimes it may seem hard to believe that we can turn to God in prayer and trust Him. Yet we can; and we can begin in small ways to prove that we are truly His children by making a stronger effort to express spiritual qualities such as love, peace, faithfulness, intelligence.
Putting this spiritual approach into practice right where we are will help us to see the good already present in our lives and help us to build on this spiritual foundation. It should also help us to see that God's love is all-inclusive and that no one can be overlooked or uncared for. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes of God, Spirit, in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``The one Spirit includes all identities.
Whether we are praying for other people to find harmony and home or we are seeking a homeland ourselves, God's all-inclusive love promises that neither we nor anyone else is forgotten. And as we turn toward Him with confidence, He will guide us safely home.
BIBLE VERSE We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. . . . Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: . . . we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
II Corinthians 5:1, 5, 6, 8