“All these people were still living by faith when they died…they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth… they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
Hebrews 11:13-16 (NIV)
“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.”
1Peter 2:11 (NIV)
We’re not doing a lot of traveling these days, nor are many of us planning grand travel vacations in the near future. Such things must wait for a while because of the virus that seems to be dictating many areas of our lives at present.
I have been thinking, though, how clear these Scriptures are about how we are to regard our sojourn here on Earth. We are to realize that we are “aliens and strangers” in this life. Psalm 90:12 advises us to pray, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”. We’re to remember that this life is not all there is; that we have been made for eternity.
When I was a child, our Sunday school favored a song: “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through. If heaven’s not my home, then Lord, what will I do? The angels beckon me from Heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore!”
We are meant to feel dissatisfied in this life. When we try to make our current life “fill us up”; when we try to quell our soul’s restlessness by buying stuff, or distracting ourselves with experiences; when we demand that a relationship fully complete us; or even that our work, our efforts, our sacrifices amount to something more than they do, we will sooner or later be disappointed. We were made for more; we were made for union with God. As St Augustine famously said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee”.
So how do we deal with our tendency to be swallowed up in the “daily-ness” of our lives, leaving no energy, time, or awareness for greater things? How to stop asking of our lives and relationships something they can’t provide?
I’ve been thinking, for me, that cultivating a mindset of being a “traveler on a journey” is helpful. When I travel, I don’t expect everything to be comfortable or to my liking. I am open to the serendipitous things that occur, willing to change the plan I might have had in mind, and open to the circumstances and people I encounter. I’m definitely aware that I’m not in control of things, and the more I remember that, the better my trip experience.
Yes, sometimes things are uncomfortable or irritating or even downright miserable, but not forever or even for long. After all, I’m not home yet; I’m on a journey.