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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Foreigners in this Land

"Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls." 1 Peter 2:11 NLT

These are some of my precious Korean friends. We meet every Monday to study the Bible and several other times each semester to "practice" English.

I am always amazed at the difficulty they have doing things that we do without thinking, things that they used to take for granted while living in their homeland.

They have moved here to America. It sounds exciting, to live in the same country as Hollywood and New York City.

They are examples of sacrifice for their husbands. They give up friends, family, homes, jobs, routines and comforts to live a meager life here. They struggle with depression, isolation and loneliness.

What is surprising to me is that even the ladies who have lived here for years still struggle. Even ladies who have green cards and will live here for the rest of their lives struggle. They struggle with doctors, hair stylists and grocers. They struggle with teachers, waiters and police officers. Communicating in a different language than your first language is difficult.

I often wonder what I would feel like living in a foreign country. First of all, I know I would have an advantage that these ladies don't have. I am American and I look American and I speak English.

What would it be like to look differently, to speak differently and to behave differently than everyone else surrounding me? Would I become depressed or would I learn to survive? If I stayed in a foreign country would I change my ways, my dress, my preferences?

I watch these Korean ladies immerse themselves in American culture in order to learn English. Their children go to school here and pick English up very quickly. They are always talking about how their children teach them words and correct their speaking all the time. They gather their children together every Friday afternoon to teach them Korean. Even though they are here for a relatively short time, their children, especially the ones that are born here are in danger of not knowing to write and speak the Korean language properly.

I love this picture of the battle I am to feel as a Christian living in a foreign place. The reality is that I do know how they feel. I struggle with the same things they do living here on earth. I will struggle until I reach my heavenly home. If I am not feeling particularly battle weary, these sweet ladies remind me with their accents, beautiful skin and Asian look.

As Christians we have this same battle in our homes. As we raise our children we have special lessons to teach them who they really are, where they came from and how they are to act as Christians. We have church, devotions, holiday traditions. All of these revolve around the "foreign" country we belong to as believers.

We are instructed in God's Word to live as foreigners in this land. We are taught from a young age as Christians this world is not our home.

We are to live here on earth as these precious Korean ladies live. They live in small apartments with little possessions. They buy things that are disposable. When they leave America, they pass down things to each other like cars, dishes and cell phones. This is a beautiful picture of how we are supposed to live in this world. We are not to be attached to our possessions. We are not to invest tons in what is temporary. We are to keep our eyes on our homeland waiting for the day we will return.

"Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it. Don't indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they'll be won over to God's side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives. " 1 Peter 2:11-12 The Message

This song by MercyMe brought tears to our eyes as we read the lyrics together. These ladies know what it's like to "be out of place and never more homesick than now." Do we?


You're in a better place, I've heard a thousand times

And at least a thousand times I've rejoiced for you

But the reason why I'm broken, the reason why I cry

Is how long must I wait to be with you

I close my eyes and I see your face

If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place

Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow

I've never been more homesick than now

Help me Lord cause I don't understand your ways

The reason why I wonder if I'll ever know

But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same

Cause I'm still here so far away from home

I close my eyes and I see your face

If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place

Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow

I've never been more homesick than now

In Christ, there are no goodbye

And in Christ, there is no end

So I'll hold onto Jesus with all that I have

To see you again

To see you again

And I close my eyes and I see your face

If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place

Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow

Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow

Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow

I've never been more homesick than now


Renee Heaton said...

The other day, I was sitting at another red light in the car. I had this overwhelming sense of nostalgia come over me and all I could think of was here I am at another red light…as I was looking around at the people in the other cars, I felt a slight sense of sadness and loneliness. It was like all of a sudden it hit me that I was out of place, that I really didn’t belong here. I was longing for heaven – because I know this is not my home. I have a lot of moments like these the more I pull away from the world.

We are to be foreigners in this world. What is hard for your precious friends to adapt to is sometimes harder for us to let go of. They are trying so hard to grasp the culture and differences of this land and I am trying with the Lord’s help to get away from it!

The more I strive for a sin free life the more of a stranger I become too. Praise God!

“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:11-12)

Thanks for being an inspiration to your “foreign” friends – near and far!

Kathryn, Michael & Alex said...

Dear Jesus how we long for your return to take us home.
While it is true that we may not be foreigners in the United States, we are as He says foreigners here on earth.
My prayer is for you to be able teach your Korean friends this. That it is all the earth we are foreign to...