Where is home when you lose your faith? Where is home when you’re searching for love lost? Lynda Alsford recounts a deeply meaningful account of her journey to Home. You don’t want to miss this, the last guest post in my “There’s No Place Like Home” series.
I always longed for home. As a child my parents divorced and spent time in two homes. For most of my adult life I lived in tied accommodation. From nurses’ homes to managing sheltered housing, from being a live-in nanny to working for the church, I have frequently lived in accommodation other people provided for me. At times I experienced a desperate yearning for my own home, feeling its absence keenly. I dreamed of a place to call my own – constantly. The pain of this unfulfilled dream caused me to examine my desire more closely. I realised there was more behind it than just a yearning for a physical home. There were deeper emotions at play. I needed to find a sense of home within my heart, with God. The problem was I didn’t know how to find it.
During my time working for a church in London, I got to know a minister who used to be a farmer. He told me he used to find peace and restoration standing at the farmyard gate looking over the farm and local countryside. I asked him how he found peace working in London, with the countryside miles away from where he lived and worked. He said to me ‘I learned to find the farmyard gate within me’.
This challenged me. I knew I needed to find the ‘farmyard gate’ within me but the trouble was I hadn’t found it externally and didn’t know quite what I was seeking. As so often happens in my life, God stepped into the situation in an unexpected way. In the summer of 2010, I found myself moving to in a town called Peacehaven, Sussex, UK. I took the photograph of the sea below on the very first day I ever went to Peacehaven.
Peacehaven is situated on the top of the cliffs at the edge of the South Downs National Park. I saw the blue of the sea, sunlight sparkling over the water above the green of the cliff tops and I immediately fell in love with the view. I had found my own ‘farmyard gate’. I had found the place where my heart smiles and sighs, ‘I’m home!’
When I moved to Peacehaven I was in the middle of a major crisis of faith. I had stopped believing in the existence of God – somewhat unhelpful when you are the parish evangelist at a lively church. Not wanting to live a lie, I moved away from London and ministry. I found a live-in post in Peacehaven. I may still not have had my own home but I had found the geographical place where I felt at home. However, given it coincided with losing my faith in God I was plunged into a time of great spiritual darkness. I had found a physical sense of home but had lost any sense of spiritual home.
A few months later, I realised I missed the God in whom I no longer believed. I had never felt so empty. My emptiness led me to seek Him in a way I had never sought Him before. Was God real? If He was, did He love me?
I took a tentative step towards faith again in January 2011. With that one small step of faith I experienced a comparatively large amount of peace. I continued to seek God’s presence in my life and discovered God as Father in a way I hadn’t before. His powerful love broke through and set me free. I began to find home within my heart.
Home is the place to which you want to run in times of trouble. It is the place where you feel you can be yourself with no condemnation. It is a place where you can take off the mask you sometimes show to the world. Coming into the presence of my Father God is now my home. I now have a home of my own at last and I praise God for it but it has made me more aware than ever that my real home is in the presence of my loving Father God. I am blessed. I moved to Peacehaven and found a haven of peace. I found my ‘farmyard gate’.
Lynda Alsford is a sea-loving, cat-loving GP administrator, who writes in her spare time. She has written two books: He Never Let Go describes her journey through a major crisis of faith whilst working as an evangelist at a lively Church in Chiswick, West London. Being Known describes how God set her free from food addiction. Both books are available in paperback and on kindle on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. She is currently writing a book in the Bible fiction genre. She writes a newsletter, Seeking the Healer, in which she shares the spiritual insights she has gained on her journey. Sign up for this at her website www.lyndaalsford.com. She is also administrator for the Association of Christian Writers.