Monday, August 06, 2012

Strangers and Foreigners

I moved out of my little room today. I was going to be house sitting for the Joel's family while they were in the States but their daughter has been having seizures and so they cancelled. This event has changed plans and my life is a little bit uncertain right now, since I've moved, but am not sure where exactly I am going to be living for the next month. As I told friends and family on the phone last night, I'm not really worried about having a place to live. God has provided in the past, He's never left me in the cold (literally) so I know it'll work out. I'm just very concerned about Donna so I ask that you keep her and the family in your prayers as tests are being run and the doctors try to figure out how to help her.

In light of these events, I was thinking about the uncertainties of life, of being a gypsy and of what the Bible says about being foreign. I guess it all kind of connected in my head, but I apologize if it comes out sounding disjointed here.

The ten months I have been in St. Petersburg have been filled with uncertainties. I mean life has uncertainties anyway, but I feel like living here on my own has given me more uncertainties than most. While the place I lived was generally fine, there were times I didn't feel like I could completely relax. There were times, where I haven't known what I'm doing the next few hours let alone the next day. Russia has a tendency to change plans on you.

But you know, Jesus was the same way. In Luke 9:58, Jesus talks about how he has no place to rest his head. And talk about giving up everything. I mean, even if you don't believe Jesus was the Son of God, you've got to give the man credit. At 30 years old, he left the family carpentry shop and gave up his lifestyle to spend the next three years wandering around and proclaiming what he believed in. How many people today would actually do that?

Then you have Paul. This guy had it all. He was a Pharisee, well educated and then he has this experience on the road to Damascus and he gives up everything to spend the rest of his life spreading the news that the Messiah had come and being persecuted for it. I could go into detail here about Paul's sufferings but that's not really my point here.

If Jesus and Paul could learn to live by wandering, so can I. I'm not saying I'm anything compared to them. Not by any means, but what I am saying is they are examples to me and I feel like these ten months have led me to better understand what it's like to have no place to rest one's head. For ten months, I have been living in a state of limbo.

"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household" ~ Ephesians 2:19

You know, it's funny. Sometimes we read the scriptures so many times that they become rote. I was thinking about this scripture today and it's taken on a new meaning for me. Paul wrote this to the Gentiles. The people who even if they converted to Judaism, would never be completely Jewish. Think about how much hearing these words meant to a people who were excluded.

I have spent two years of my life as a foreigner. It is one of the most confusing feelings in the world. You live in a place that is not your own. A culture that is not yours. Oh sure, you can try to become one with the people of your adopted country, but you never will be. I've had moments where people say things like "You don't count as American, you're one of us." But then the next moment you turn around and it's like "Well, you wouldn't understand because you're foreign."

You are never completely at home living here, but when you go back to your "real culture" you don't feel completely comfortable there either. And I'm just saying this based on my limited experience. I'm sure people who've lived overseas longer could tell you a lot more about it.

My point is that I can understand this feeling. The feeling that people in your adopted country don't completely understand you and the feeling that the people back home don't completely understand you either. My point is that I can understand this feeling of a people looking for acceptance and finally finding it in Christ. I can understand the feeling of being a wanderer and finally coming to a place of security and rest. Praise God for that. 

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