Our citizenship is in Heaven

Whenever someone would ask if I was nervous to move to Germany, my answer was always, “No” — but only because I hadn’t really thought about it. How does one go about thinking of the next two-plus years living in a foreign country? I had no idea what to expect, and knew that I would be without much of what I counted as huge blessings in my life: home, family, friends, church, job and academic opportunities, American culture, etc. It could be overwhelming. Thus, my response was to not think about it.

Well, as I write this we are in Germany. Duderstadt, to be exact. Roxanna and I are attending a youth conference on the Holy Spirit with Matthias and Christin Wiebe, and it has been great. Though we have not understood much, it has afforded us the chance to hear German speakers in a way we never have before, to get to spend good time with Matt and Christin, to meet many new friends, and see German snow and freezing temperatures (quite a difference from our Fresno winter!).

However, it is all finally starting to hit. It started to before we left. We had a wonderful Christmas with both families, driving hither and thither to see everyone. It reminded me how lucky I am. Actually, blessed by God is the better way to put it. This made our departure all the more bittersweet. Saying goodbye was difficult. The hugs were tighter. The “I love yous” were more meaningful. We aren’t leaving a bad situation to seek better circumstances — we are leaving an unimaginably good situation to fulfill the call of God on our lives. That is the only reason to do something like this. When God’s will has gripped you, what other response can there be but to submit yourself wholly to it?

Reading SHAPE this week, I was struck by the third chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. While it is easy to focus on earthly things at the expense of the holy and good will of Almighty God, Paul writes, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21, ESV). Though it would be easy to ignore God’s call, that is not an option as a follower of Christ. And foregoing the fleeting pleasures of this world for the work of the Lord is always worth it, because as we live in Christ, we will be glorified with Him.

Because of this, we can know that, though we are apart from our loved ones, our homes, and our comforts, God will work all things for our good as we are called according to His purpose. We are expecting miracles. We are praying and confidently hoping for many salvations, baptisms, growth in the church, the radical transformation of the city of Peine in the image of Jesus, and the glorification of God. It is for this reason that, though we will dearly miss all that we have left behind, we cannot contain our excitement for the next two years. To God be the glory!

(Cross-posted at The Petersens Adventures.)

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