I have an acquaintance that was born in Nairobi, Kenya. Recently, we celebrated with her a major accomplishment that personally I took for granted for years. She officially became a United States citizen. The journey to U.S. citizenship for her was long and bumpy. While I am still unsure how long she has been in the United States, I do know that years ago she received a visa, attended college in the U.S. and graduated, has worked in some community-impacting positions, has purchased a home and is now a vice-president at a local bank. Then you add on top of that her recent citizenship. I can say confidently, and she can too, GOD HAS BEEN GOOD TO HER.
In our conversations about the process, she explained a few facts about U.S. citizenship. First, the time it took for her to go from obtaining a visa to a work permit to a green card, to citizenship was long, highly scrutinized, and expensive. Second, statistically less than 1% of Visa applications get granted from Kenya. Lastly, even after appropriate documents are submitted an “officer” makes the final decision. In the words of my friend, “essentially another human holds the key to your life in America.”
We really don’t know how blessed we are. No Visa, no paperwork, and no human, stood in the way of me being declared a citizen of the United States of America.
Now, before we begin to get too patriotic and start singing “She’s a Grand Ole Flag,” I would like to make a confession. I actually have dual citizenship. For more than three decades I can proudly boast citizenship in the U.S. and citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven. My paperwork involved confessing my sins. My visa was obtained when I submitted to Christ as Savior. And the only officer of the Kingdom that stood between me and my citizenship in Heaven was Jesus. And He gladly gave His life for mine. I pray that you can claim dual citizenship as well.
However, as a citizen, we have responsibilities—I call them opportunities—to manifest our heavenly citizenship through the condition of our heart. Jesus shared in Matthew 13:1-8 in the parable of the sower, four different heart conditions: the stoic, shallow, suffocated, and sensitive heart. At first glance, it would appear that each of us starts with and ends with the same heart condition. However, a closer examination of our own lives will discover a maturing of sorts of our own heart.
At my initial introduction to the seed of the Word of the Lord, I may have a “stoic heart,” hard and impenetrable. But as life continues to happen my heart continues to grow to a “shallow heart,” where the Word grows up fast with no root, to a “suffocated heart,” where life’s desires shift my perspective, to finally a “sensitive heart” that produces up to 100 times what was planted.
Just like my friend and her journey to citizenship, life will have its ups and downs. However, if we stay the course, keep receiving seed, and maintain our sensitivity for the things of God, one day we will culminate our heavenly citizenship with a celebration IN HEAVEN. In the words of Paul, in Philippians 3:20, “…our citizenship is in Heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ…”.