All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
We are wanderers. Admittedly, it doesn’t always look or feel that way. Especially for those with young families, substantial mortgages and established jobs. It seems like they’re about as rooted as you can get. After all, their employer believes they’re going to be here a while, their bank believes they’re going to be here a while, and as far as they can tell, they believe they’re going to be here a while. They’ve settled down and settled in.
In what sense, then, are we wanderers?
The Hebrew writer puts his finger on it in 11:13-16, where he speaks of people who lived by faith understanding they were “foreigners and strangers on earth” (v. 13). They recognized as wonderful as life on earth could be, it was not their ultimate destiny — so they didn’t act like it was. In the context, he had been talking about the patriarchs, with special focus on Abraham and Sarah (v. 9-12). Abraham and Sarah were wealthy, and they had Isaac late in life — so you know they had reasons to be as attached to this life as anyone. Yet they didn’t think that life was all about their child, or their possessions — it was all about God. (And when you think this way, you have the true perspective for being great parents and great stewards).
So, in the end, being a wanderer isn’t about what you have or don’t have; it’s not about whether you have a 15-year mortgage, 12 more years on the job, or the kids have 10 more years of school. It’s about where your head and your heart are. It’s about recognizing and appreciating the difference between the temporary and the eternal. It’s about choosing to treasure the eternal because where our treasure is — that’s where our heart will be (Matthew 6:21).
Green has written a book on the model prayer called “Praying in the Reign.” It is available through 21st Century Christian.
Find more of his writings at his website: www.a-taste-of-grace-with-bruce-green.com.