For a prolonged season, my parents owned both the house in which they resided in one small town in South Carolina and a lot in a different small town on the completely other side of the state. Even though their address and their belongings said their home was in Aiken, South Carolina, there hearts and their hopes said their home was becoming Beaufort, South Carolina, their retirement destination.
Their past and their present, along with a houseful of belongings, were in one home, but their future and their longings were with an overgrown corner lot with heaps of potential (and heaps of weeds and overgrown grass).
It wasn’t much to look at, this lot that they had purchased, but it was enough to shift the center of their residence gravity from one place to another. That lot of land began to pull them toward their future city; even though the actual move would be years in coming, their visits to Beaufort became more frequent. A box or two of their beloved belongings would accompany each trip and end up in a storage unit of sorts. Slowly but surely, they were switching their residency.
Bit by bit, box by box, daydream by daydream, the lot pulled them to their new city in a gradual switch of residency.
Three of my close college friends have lost parents in the past 9 months, and two acquaintances have buried precious babies in the past 6 months. While I am far from the epicenter of these tragedies, the aftershocks of such loss are enough to effect me from the other side of the country. As I have sought to process their unimaginable loss, the Lord keeps bringing my heart and mind back to the image of lots.
With the loss of a dearly loved one, these friends have, in a sense, invested into a lot in glory. God has sent the parents who trusted in the Lord or the babies who were enveloped in the promises of a gracious God on ahead of them. They now have a very real vested interest in their lots in the new heavens and the new earth.
A part of their lives, their futures, their hopes has tangibly gone to the other side of glory, which has only made more real the reality of their dual citizenship and residency. They are here, many loved ones are here, their stuff is here; this is still home; yet, they have a real stake in a lot on the other side of glory.
To be sure, all believers have a vested interest in the new heavens and the new earth, namely a love for Christ and a desire to be with Him constantly and without the barriers of sin. All believers have a dual citizenship and should be living in the tension of present and future residency.
Unfortunately, most of us are still trying to make this place our home, putting the majority of our thoughts and plans and efforts into this present place of residency. These friends of mine, along with all others who have released loved ones into the future residency of heaven, have the advantage of a lot on the other side of glory tugging on, pulling on the center of their residency. We will all begin the gradual shift of residency, but they have lapped us through their premature grief.
It’s not that they don’t love this earth and their present lots; they do, as there is much life left to be lived here, much more of God to know and make known here. It’s just that they are more acutely aware of their future residency. The loved ones gone before pull their hearts to the heavenly lot more often. Their storage containers in glory are slowly being filled, one box of memory and hope at a time.
We have much to learn from these, our grieving friends. They invite us to live more fully as dual citizens.
They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a county of their own…Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Hebrews 11:13-16.