I was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. I lived in Belfast until I was about a year old. We then immigrated to Canada where I spent the next 11 years of my life before we finally made to the USA. Each of these countries I lived in shaped me to be who I am today. I guess you could say that I am a true mutt that is not really sure where my home is located. I tease my children that I am probably one of the few people they know that can sing the national anthems of three countries.
Even though I was only a year old when we left Belfast, I spent many summer there visiting with my extended family. My parents and brother were the only family I had in the USA while I was growing up so I loved to go home to visit. I would stay at my grandmother’s house. It was a row house with no indoor plumbing. The loo, as they called it, was out in the back garden area. I can remember lying in bed in the mornings and hearing the milk man making deliveries in his horse drawn cart. The clip clop of the horses hooves and the rattling of the glass milk bottles are still special sounds from my childhood. But unfortunately, the sounds of bombs going off and gun fire are also part of my childhood memories. A lot of my summers in Belfast were during the height of “the troubles.” Such events taught me about diversity and hatred and how they can destroy generations.
Life in Canada was something different from Ireland. I remember snow, in fact, I remember a lot of snow. We were having dinner at a friend’s house and by the time we left, our car was buried in snow. Back in the day, Toronto had a ski slope in a park near the city center. The elementary school I attended would spray water across the back play grounds and this would give us skating rinks all winter long. I would head off to school each morning with my skates slung over my shoulder. All that was great until the one time I did come home with a minor case of frost bite in my toes because I stayed out too long in the cold. In Canada, I learned about making do in all circumstances.
Finally, we immigrated to the USA. We held the status of resident aliens for many years. After college, my whole family decided we would apply for our citizenship status. This took a lot of preparation and study for the test that we would be required to take. I never realized how much work it would take to become a US citizen. Finally in June of 1985, I became a US citizen. It was a day of great celebrations for my family and something I am so glad I was able to accomplish. God has has provided so much for me in my new home country. I learned that for those given much, much will be expected.
Luke 12:48 “But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”
We all have a nation that we belong to in this world. We are all citizens of some country, either by birth or by naturalization. But as Christians, we have a citizenship that is far more important for us and that is our heavenly citizenship.
Philippians 3:20 “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,”
When we accept Christ, He grants us a heavenly citizenship. As citizens, we must live our life preparing for our eternal home. Just like preparing for my US citizenship was not easy, we have a lot of work to do in preparing for our heavenly citizenship. We must follow Christ during this time away from eternal home. That includes loving our neighbors as ourselves. We are also called to help those in need around us. We must share the gospel with those the Lord puts in our path. We can not serve the world and serve Christ. No one can serve two masters as shown to us in Matthew.
Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
There are so many verses in the Bible that teach us about preparing for our heavenly home instead of just living out our life here in our temporary home. Once again Matthew points the way.
Matthew 6: 19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Never forget whose you are and that our life in this world is not our real home. Live for Christ and you will see the rewards of that life when we reach our eternal home.
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”