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Unlocked, Part 2: Walk as Strangers and Exiles

A word to those who are displaced during this time: walk as strangers and exiles. You and your families have, without a doubt, endured inordinate levels of stress, frustration, and transition. Some of you have bounced from house to house, quarantining in one place before moving on, being humbled by the generosity and hospitality of others. Most likely you have, at times, longed for a home where you could be settled and unpacked, or it could be that you’re missing the houses, roots, and communities you gave up when you sold everything to move overseas.

We are all hardwired to long for home; it is a good, God-given desire. At a time when your lives may seem chaotic and in absolute upheaval, here are three truths to cling to for encouragement and comfort as you walk this unclear path.

You are sharing in the sufferings of Christ.

In the words of Jesus, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matt. 8:20). Our Redeemer was functionally homeless in a mournfully broken world after leaving the glorious heavenly home that he had shared from the beginning with his Father. You are now experiencing a taste of the cost he paid during his incarnation, and in this you can come to know him more deeply and to rejoice in him more fully (1 Pet. 4:13).

“You are now experiencing a taste of the cost Jesus paid during his incarnation, and in this you can come to know him more deeply and to rejoice in him more fully (1 Pet. 4:13).”

You can learn to rest in God’s wise, providential, faithful reign over every detail of your life.

He has determined our allotted periods and the boundaries of our dwelling places, that each of us should seek him; “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:26-28). He is leading you, hemming your way in behind and before, according to his as-yet-unseen purposes for you. May your heart resonate with the Psalmist as you experience these forced boundaries, saying, “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” (Ps. 16:5-6).

That beautiful inheritance is the future reward he has in store for you.

It is your true home. Saints of old endured hard sufferings as they trusted the promises of God and looked to a better country, a place God has prepared for them. They “endured as seeing him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27). All believers are technically strangers and exiles here on earth, but you are living in that raw reality, maybe for the first time, as the veil of comfort and settled roots has been lifted during this season.

Take courage in the promise that your true citizenship is in heaven! It’s a mercy of God that he is trending you away from the illusion that this world is home, and he has made his dwelling place within you in this present age by his Spirit. May he grant you eyes to see by faith and long for heaven more with each passing day, and may you abide richly in him as he abides in you!

In his mercy, God has always led his people along paths that require dependence and faith in him for the glory and praise of his name. Our neediness is an appropriate posture of creatures to our Creator, and it sets him apart as holy. The assembly of Judah, when facing terrifying danger and potential catastrophe, saw their desperate need for him and cried out, “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chron. 20:12).

“Saints of old endured hard sufferings as they trusted the promises of God and looked to a better country, a place God has prepared for them.”

Truly, these waves have been distressing and have thrown us against the Rock of Ages, but all the turmoil of this fragile life fades into the background as we keep our eyes fixed on him in hope-filled reliance. We are redeemed beneficiaries and bearers of a great and glorious gospel! God has led each of us to our current locations and circumstances so that we might be sowers and ambassadors of his Kingdom exactly where we find ourselves. May the hope that we have in him overflow with our words and actions to a hurting, watching world so that many more tongues will be singing his praises alongside us when this current crisis becomes an event of the past.

So walk forward with your confidence in the Lord and let your hearts be at peace; your Good Shepherd and High Priest is daily interceding for you, leading you, and working on your behalf. He is with you through all the ups and downs and will uphold you with his righteous right hand. He is seated on his throne, actively building his church with masterful intentionality and wisdom. May his name be proclaimed and exalted from our local neighborhoods to the ends of the earth!

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. The LORD is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed. Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever. (Psalm 28:8-9)


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