As the early morning sunlight splinters through closed roller blinds, at the groggy cusp of awakening—eyelids blinking and squinting away the bright—I often awake, wondering where I am.

A mental map slowly emerges, of Asian city streets, of twists and turns through alleyways and neighborhoods. “Jinse Boulevard to Beijing Road,” I mull over in my mind. “Down to First Ring Road, which turns to Yi Er Yi Street. Maybe I’ll head over to Salvador’s Coffee on Wen Hua Alley.” But I haven’t lived at that address for years. I am not in Kunming city. I am not even in China.

The lines of geography shift on canvas, yellow lines on white Google Maps, dotted with hotspot district locations.

Coffee Shop.
Noodle shop.
Point of interest.

Gail Gardner Way curves like a snake through wild West Arizona streets—most likely old horse trails. “Straight at the intersection of Iron Springs, veer left, Starbucks on hill. I’ll grab a coffee and a blog,” I think to myself as I lay in bed, half awake, morning glory buried in my eyes. But I am not in Prescott. Apart from my short seven month Stateside stint, I haven’t lived in America in well over a decade.

“Where am I?”

Then the rhythms of ongoing construction begin. A circular saw penetrates the chaotic silence, a hammer, the hum of an overhead skyscraper crane. Someone yells to his buddy in Tagalog, which brings me back to present reality. “Oh, that’s right. I’m in Manila.”

The map coordinates rearrange.

Aurora Boulevard.
Gateway Mall.

But I could be anywhere. The thousands of days spent traversing Asian terrain and culture have led me from city to village, borders to continents. In some time or place, I have been there. Everywhere. But when the contours of map overlays shift so randomly, I often feel like I am nowhere.

“Where am I?” Or an even deeper, more obscure missionary question, “Where is home?”

It’s an anomaly worth considering.

But there is no home for me. Beside the home that is my wife, I am a tourist. I am a sojourner. I am in transit.

I am foreign. It defines me.

Death Cab For cutie says, “When you feel just like a tourist in the city you were born, then it’s time to go and define your destination. There’s so many different place to call home.”

That’s the loss we feel as missionaries. Or is that the deeper transcendent notion of all Christians? That we are just passing through, on our way from here to there, going home?

I’m not homesick for America, or China, or the Philippines. I am not overly consumed with wanderlust—that comes with the territory as a missionary. I think I am just sick for my true home.

I love the geography of my Christian life. I love how I am able to switch between maps, cities and continents. And I do feel that even in the confusion of present cares and concerns, that little tug—that dissatisfaction, even—God is reaching out to take my hand, and lead me on the journey toward my true home.