I am a Citizen of Heaven

Waiting for my True Home

“In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you.  I am going away to prepare a place for you.  If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.” John 14:2-4

Jesus addressed these words to 11 men who adored him, who had given up their jobs to follow him around, who had set their hopes and hearts on them. These three sentences were among some of the last words he said to them as he tried to explain to them that he would be crucified ever so soon.

They didn’t get it.  They didn’t have the 2,000-year-ago perspective that we have today.  In 2014, a child who attends Sunday School can tell you, “Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose again on the third day.” But that wasn’t clear to these men, living in the moment, feeling the raw feelings before any of it happened.  All they knew was that their best friend, their mentor, their hero, was talking about leaving.  They didn’t know why, and they were crushed.

And so, Jesus comforted them. “I am going to prepare a place for you, and I’ll come back and get you so we can be together again.  I promise.”

He promised me, too.  He’s preparing me … me personally … a home in heaven.  He’s getting it ready for me.  And he’s coming back for me.

I am so relieved every time I can pry my thoughts off of this world and its myriad of worries and unsolvable problems that I somehow think I can solve if I just think about solving them enough …  ugh.  When I can stop worrying my worries and contemplating my solutions long enough to remember—this world is not my home—what a blessed relief!  I just have to live here for a short time, and then Jesus will let me come live in his Father’s house—forever.  With Him.  All my worries and problems and contemplations are just a speck in the timeline of eternity.

Jesus is preparing my true home.  I just can’t wait.

I am a Citizen of Heaven

Safe Wings

But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, [Or to] turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people [shall be] my people, And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The LORD do so to me, and more also, If [anything but] death parts you and me.”
— 
Ruth 1:16-17

I try to imagine this passage as it plays out. A woman in grief, still young, with options available to her, but determined. For what reason? To honor her dead husband? For the love of her bitter mother in law? I’m not sure. But her declaration is certain.

Your people will be mine. I will dwell with you, take your name, honor your God. Claim your home. I renounce myself as a Moabitess. I am now only Ruth, your daughter.

We think of home as something familiar. What if it’s rather a determination? An intentional choice that says “I’ve never been there, but that’s where you are to be, that is where I’ll be also.” What a transforming thought.

Ruth, this woman of reckless abandon, brings determination to life. Her resolve brought the notice and favor of Boaz, a man of standing who possessed all of the finest qualities. I love the blessing he speaks to Ruth in the fields.

“May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.” -Ruth 2:12
Under whose wings you have come to seek refuge. Jesus says to the disciple who has sought His refuge, “I am preparing a place for you. Where I am, you will be.”

Home with Him. Under the safety of His wings.

I am a Citizen of Heaven

A Heart at Peace

Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 HCS

I started this post by typing out a list of all the material things I yearn for.  But as I read my list, I was pretty embarrassed, so I just deleted it—on the computer.  It’s … um… still there in my heart. 

While you aren’t reading my list, God is.  And he’d like me to change it, I think. Lots of items on my list had to do with my house, the one here in Texas.  God isn’t against me adorning my house.  He just wants me to be thinking of the one in heaven, not the one here. He’d like me to align my list with my true citizenship.

What does it look like to store up treasures in heaven?  I think it is one of God’s topsy-turvy way of looking at things.  The more I give away here, the more I pile up there.  When you and I give away our time for ministry, to be his hands and feet to a weary world, we gain treasure in heaven.  When we give away our money to advance His Kingdom’s work, we are making deposits in our heavenly banking account.

If I spend my time and my money on gaining new pretties for my house or any of the other frivolities on my list, I am setting my heart on this world, which will soon pass away.

More stuff never really satisfies.  But a heart set on heaven?  That’s a heart at peace.  Peace is the fringe benefit of a hefty treasure chest in heaven.

May I not only remember that I am a citizen of heaven, but act like it.

I am a Citizen of Heaven

A Heavenly Home

For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.
And truly if they had called to mind that [country] from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.
But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly [country]. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
–Hebrews 11:14-16, NKJV

I love Steven Curtis Chapman’s music. As I read through these verse, his song ‘burn the ships’ came to my mind. It’s been years since I’ve listened to it, but the chorus still echoes strong.

Burn the ships, we’re here to stay
There’s no way we could go back
Now that we’ve come this far by faith
Burn the ships, we’ve passed the point of no return
Our life is here
So let the ships burn

The fleet had landed. They’d committed to this new adventure, to a new home. That home hadn’t been realized yet, and the journey to it was harder than anyone had imagined, but they couldn’t go back. Cortez wouldn’t let them.

Faith is a sure confidence in things yet unseen. Home is a hope of a life fulfilled, a joy sustained and a wholeness unsurpassed.

None of these things are realized here on earth–not completely. There’s always a little longing in our hearts, always something waiting to be filled. Because this isn’t home.

CS Lewis wrote “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

I have a heavenly home, I was made for it, and I long for it. This world cannot offer enough pleasure to fill the void of yearning. So, I press on. My heart is there, how could I turn back?

I am a Citizen of Heaven

Joint entry: Proof of Citizenship

passport“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21, NIV

From Jen:

Citizenship denotes the link between a person and a state. A relationship between me and the kingdom; one that is certain whether I am physically in that kingdom or not.

I can’t help but think on Christian’s pilgrimage to the Celestial City in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. The narrow path is difficult, full of trials and fearful encounters, but along the way, Christian carries with him his parchment—the scroll with the seal upon it—that he’d received at the Cross. He was to study those words, to think upon them and talk of them. And at the end of the journey, he would hand that scroll over to the gate-keeper, and it would be delivered to the King. Why?

It proved his citizenship. During his pilgrimage, as he struggled along the difficult path, suffered humiliation, wrestled with temptation, grappled with grief, and trembled before Apollyon, Christian carried with him that scroll. Because it wasn’t mere parchment. It was his proof of Citizenship.

God gives us his proof—He gave a deposit. The Spirit of God, dwells with me. Seals me. Journeys with me. I don’t know what the road ahead will look like. Sometimes there are dark clouds ahead. Sometimes I get trapped in the dungeon of doubt. Sometimes the valley terrifies me. But along the way, I carry with me the same scroll. He declares now, and at the City Gate, “She belongs. I am her proof of citizenship.”

From Susan

I love that.  The Holy Spirit, my proof of citizenship.

Do you have a passport?  Do you know where it is?  If you are living in your home country, those questions may not seem terribly pressing to you. “No, why would I have a passport?”  Or perhaps, “I think I have one, but it may be expired . . . hmm . . . Is it in my sock drawer maybe?”

But, if you were to ever travel abroad, you’d know exactly where your passport was every second you were on foreign soil.  You’d know, so you could snatch it up in a fraction of a second if you were ever called upon to flee a political coup.

You’d know, so when the police stopped you on the side of the road, as they often do overseas, you could prove your citizenship.

You’d know, because it would be your ticket inside your embassy.  The only ticket. Without it, you stay on the outside of those tall, barbed-wire topped walls.

And you’d know, because it’s the only thing that could get you back on to your country.

We are citizens of Heaven.  The Holy Spirit is my proof of citizenship, far more precious to me than my tattered U.S. passport.  He is my guide through emotional coups and hostile interrogations.  He rejoices with me when I enter a Heavenly Embassy, otherwise known as a church.

And one day, this weary traveler, sealed with the Holy Spirit, will step into Heaven.

I’ll hear God the Father say, “Welcome home.”