There is a lot about immigration and refugees in the news these days. I’m very familiar with the sensation of being far from one’s home country and living in a strange land. There’s a lot of paperwork involved just to be able to stay a short time. Many years ago, I tried to get citizenship in a country not my own, but was not allowed. There are few countries in the Middle East that welcome others into their ranks as citizen, unlike the United States.

This past week, as I began my ESL class at church, we had something to celebrate. One of the ladies had taken her citizenship test this week and passed! She was now a United States citizen! She came in with a plate of baklava and date cookies, so we could officially share in her joy.

I smiled as she told us how her knees were shaking as the official asked her questions, but I had no doubt she would pass, because the past few weeks, I’d been asking them questions on American history and government, and she knew every one. She’d worked hard and did great. She not only had to take the test in a language not her own, but also without being able to see. She’s legally blind in one eye and can hardly see out of the other.

But what are such barriers when God is on your side? You see, this dear woman already has a new passport to a beautiful land, ruled by Almighty God, for she met Jesus a few months ago.

She’s the second in our congregation, of late, who have joined the ranks of American citizens after a lot of hard work and study, but thankfully, there is only one thing required to get a passport to heaven — faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord.

For now, we enjoy sweets and cake to celebrate an earthly country, but oh, what a feast there will be when we enter the heavenly one!

Do you feel like a stranger in a strange land? It’s alright, the day will soon come when you’ll finally feel at home. In the meantime, seek out the earthly stranger who needs to be shown, not only the love of a native citizen, but that of a heavenly one as well. Remind the immigrant that none of us are truly home without Christ.

I have to quote the sweet song I love, Beulah Land,

I’m kind of homesick for a country
To which I’ve never been before.
No sad goodbyes will there be spoken
For time won’t matter anymore.
Beulah Land, I’m longing for you 
And some day, on thee I’ll stand
There my home shall be eternal 
Beulah Land, sweet Beulah Land*
Just keep longing for Beulah Land as you love the stranger in your midst.
Grace and Peace


*Written by Edgar Page Stites .

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