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.”

I am a stranger in this world

Shaped by the Journey

“Blessed is the man whose strength is in God, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.” ~Psalm 84:5 NKJV

I’m not much of a traveler. I get sick in the air and am impatient on the ground. I am a coward in things unfamiliar and a control freak in the things around me. I like an adventure, but only if it be comfortable, so this idea of a heart set on pilgrimage is terrifying to me.

But a journey is required. If I am to be conformed daily to the image of Christ, I don’t have a choice but to go. And what about that journey?  Will it be comfortable? Will it be a smooth, paved road? When I come to the mountain of challenge, will the road be steep and bumpy? When I descend into the valley of trial and discouragement, with the drop cause terror to claw against my heart?

Can I pick the route?

Probably not. Amend that—no. I can’t. Submitting to my LORD, I relinquished all presumption of that ‘right.’ But even in knowing that God is good, and His plan is good, and He wants to shape me into the image of Christ, which is good, I know that trials wait ahead. How do I know?

Because I’ve seen my father-in-law carve a stump with a chainsaw. I’ve asked him how he does it and he replied “I keep cutting until the bear comes out.”

I need more cutting, because I don’t look like Jesus yet. And from every indication of the saints that have gone before me, God has a tendency to use the blade of pilgrimage to clear away the things that don’t belong on His image-bearers.

I recently heard the following prayer by Betty Stam. “Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all utterly to Thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit. Use me as Thou wilt, work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever.”

Trembling, I’m stuttering the words for my own heart. Though I know how Betty’s life ended, I am also quite sure that I want to be like her. Because she looked like Jesus.