“For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20
When my family emigrated to the United States of America from England 41 years ago, we had to go through a LONG immigration process: my parents filled out the appropriate forms, we got the proper immunizations and health checks, got our passports ready, we applied for visas, and we waited. My Mum made many calls to the American Embassy in London, who kept saying that the quota of chemists being admitted had been met for the month, and we waited. In October, we packed up most of our furniture and belongings and shipped them in a container to America, and we waited. We lived off lawn chairs, sleeping bags, and paper plates, “camping” in our house, while we waited. Our lives were in limbo. I wanted to be in the Christmas program at my school, but I told them I couldn’t because I didn’t think I would still be in England, my brothers and I stopped studying at school because we thought we would be leaving any day, and we waited. Eventually, at the end of FEBRUARY, after several phone calls to the company that was hiring my father, and the CEO of the company calling the Embassy and letting them know that they needed my father there NOW, we were issued green cards so we could finally move to America. We were ‘permanent resident aliens’. We were able to enjoy some of the security, freedoms, and privileges of living in America. It meant that as long as we behaved ourselves, and renewed our visas on time, we could stay in the USA as aliens and live and work here, but if we didn’t obey the laws, there was the chance we could be deported, and sent back to whence we came! We finally moved to America, land of the free and home of the brave, land of the American dream, I thought that it was mostly skyscrapers and cowboys!
When I married my high school sweetheart (an American) I decided to officially become an American citizen, so I went through the process of applying, being interviewed, having a biometrics appointment, filling out forms and questionnaires, taking a test, and waiting for a decision. Finally I turned in my green card, and on March 25, 1983 I took an oath of allegiance before a judge with several other “aliens” to receive a Certificate of Naturalization – I became a U.S. Citizen by choice, even though I was not one by birth. The oath of allegiance states:
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”
It was a serious and binding decision with permanent consequences, one I took willingly because I wanted the security, freedoms, and privileges that came along with being an American citizen.
A few years later, through my husband’s mother’s passing away, I made another serious and binding decision, this time with eternal consequences: I trusted Jesus Christ as my Saviour. The wonderful, kind Pastor who had led my mother-in-law to the Lord in the hospital before she passed away explained salvation to us – he told us that God loves us so much that He sent His only Son to offer Himself as payment for our sins. He told us that God is holy and just, and so He cannot allow sin to go unpunished, just as a good earthly judge cannot let guilty criminals go free. I realized that I was a sinner, and that the eternal consequences of being a sinner is that I would spend eternity in hell when I died. So, my husband and I both bowed in humility at God’s sacrificial love for us and accepted the gift of salvation He offered through Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. It was a serious and binding decision with permanent consequences, one I took willingly because I wanted the security, freedoms, and privileges that came along with being a child of God, and a citizen of Heaven. By accepting the salvation He offered, I declared, “...that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen...” I was no longer a child of the Prince of this world, the Devil (1 John 3:10), I became a child of God (John 1:12), and along with that came the security that He would never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5); freedom from the penalty and bondage of sin (John 8:31-36); and the privileges of being a child and heir of the King (Galatians 4:5-7), and a citizen of Heaven. I am ever thankful that I am no longer an alien, “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18). My prayer is that anyone reading this will make the choice that I made many years ago and no longer be an alien to God, but become His child, a citizen of Heaven and also enjoy the security, freedoms, and privileges that come along with being a child of God.
~Graced and Grateful Grammy
Do you have the security, freedoms and privileges of a citizen?