Saturday, September 21, 2013

On the Shores of Babylon

There is a song I've heard before now, but only recently listened to carefully. It speaks to me, putting into words feelings I've had since I settled in here in Korea: "Until I die, I'll sing this song, on the shores of Babylon. Still looking for a home in a world where I belong." (Where I Belong - Switchfoot) I live in Babylon. I am a stranger in this land. Even when I am 'home', in the USA, I don't quite belong. Home is here, in Korea, but it isn't. I'm a 3rd culture person.

The Israelites experienced something similar - they lived in exile in Babylon for 70 years. Children were born and parents died, but they did not belong there. They were waiting for the time when God would allow them to return to their true home, Israel. If there's one thing life in Korea teaches me, it's that I don't belong on this earth. My ultimate citizenship is in Heaven.

Since moving here, I have found myself underlining every verse I read about foreigners or aliens (My ID card states that I am an alien.). There are quite a few of them, verses about foreigners. In the Old Testament law, God made special provisions for widows, orphans, and aliens. I recently read a booklet which summed the three up as being prone to "relational poverty", lacking a family or support network to sustain them. (The Jubilee Roadmap by Guy Brandon - It's "worthwhile reading", to borrow my dad's turn of phrase.) I agree. Here, as an alien, I can't call on someone my dad knows from seminary who knows someone who can help with something (for example). My network is small, partly because I'm not a 'networker', but also because my early networks, from family, church, college, and school, are irrelevant to my life in Korea, being an ocean away. Nonetheless, God has provided in every circumstance.

Whether my fair, foreign face (complete with "strange" blue eyes), or my relational poverty, it is easy here to remember that I am not of this world. I don't belong here, in Korea, or there, in America. I'm living in Babylon, awaiting the time when I may go to the world where I belong.

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