Recently we took a short weekend trip to our neighboring country to the north, and it got me thinking about being a foreigner.
Granted, driving across the border into Canada doesn’t involve a lot of culture shock. They dress the same way as we do. They drive cars and have ordinary looking houses. They speak English. In some ways it feels very much like home.
But then you’re driving down the road and you start getting a headache from repeatedly having to convert kilometers to miles. You keep gasping at how much things cost, and having to remind yourself that it won’t be nearly so bad once you apply the exchange rate. There are maple leaves on the flags fluttering in people’s yards instead of stars and stripes. You hear about people eating their french fries with gravy and cheese curds, and calling diapers napkins. My husband even claims the walleye taste different up there. And they won’t let you take eggs across the border, no sir. Even if they’re beautiful big brown and green eggs from the farm down the road. (I learned that lesson the hard way.)
And so, in the midst of many similarities, the feel of the foreign seeps unmistakably through.We really had a great time while we were there, even if we did have to eat Canadian eggs. It was the kind of weekend where your favorite memories are things like waking up to the fragrance of coffee perking and grandma pulling fresh orange rolls out of the oven, sitting with your feet up reading good books in the fishing boat between bites, and the feel of sun-baked lichened rocks on bare feet. We spent mornings drinking coffee on the deck, hot and humid afternoons soaking in the lake, and cooler evenings around a roaring fire. We fed the seagulls, made barbecued ribs and ate fresh bread from the resort bakery next door. It was wonderful!
Yet for all the wonderful memories we made, we still got excited when we drove back to the border at the end of our visit and spotted a familiar red, white and blue flag fluttering proudly above the brick buildings at the crossing. The line was long, and we slowly inched our way across the river, suspended between two countries on a bridge of steel. A sort of happy, content feeling prevailed. That was home over there and there were no doubts about whether they’d let us through or not, because we were citizens!
We still had to prove it, of course. We had to hand over our US passports and birth certificates, and they had to examine them with care, comparing the photos on each one to the corresponding face in our vehicle. They looked in our coolers, too, and took all of our leftover red and yellow peppers in case they were carrying some kind of bug that might infest American pepper crops. (Or something like that.)
But after all that, we drove on through the gate, and suddenly we went from being foreigners to being citizens with rights and privileges. The speed limit signs made sense again. Things cost exactly what they said they did. They served us ketchup with our fries when we stopped for supper. Everything felt somehow right and familiar again.I like to think that’s how heaven is going to feel someday. We’ll cross that great divide between this life and the next, and suddenly everything will feel right and familiar in a way it never did here on earth. We will be home, and it will be a lot more than just a happy, content sort of feeling—it will be glorious. I don’t know about you, but no amount of enjoyment I feel in this life can take away from the excitement I feel when I anticipate that border crossing!
“For our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20)
Are you a citizen, too? I hope I see you there!