Restless in Exile
Heb. 11:13 All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, 14 for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.
The great faith chapter tells us the stories of those who have gone before us and have lived in faithful obedience to God. Interestingly one of the characteristics of those who have gone before was a sense of restlessness. The more they followed God, the more they realized they weren't at home here on this earth. Rather, they desired a new and different land. The earth was simply a place of exile for they wanted to be with their heavenly Father in the place He was preparing for them. The more they focused on the Father the more they realized that they understood they were simply strangers or aliens here in this land. The exile would remain until they could truly go home.
There’s lots of language about exile these days. I wrote about “hanging up our harps” recently when talking about a response to living in exile. The Israelites chose to stop playing their music — both for the Lord and for their captors. They refused to allow the time of exile to be used by God to strengthen their relationship with him.
The great faith chapter can be seen differently. Those who walked in faith learned how to live in the exile. They were restless because they realized exile was the place where all of God’s children would ultimately find themselves. The closer we draw to the Lord, the more we begin to realize that we do not belong to the kingdoms of this world — and we are aliens living in exile.
This begs us to consider what it means to live as children of the kingdom in exile. We may choose to hang up our harps — incredibly frustrated by that which we face, or live as people of faith. We are foreigners in exile — that’s the plan! We are not to try and be as much like the world as possible, but we are to live into the “better country.” We are to live as citizens of that “better country, ” "restless" and drawing others in the direction of the heavenly kingdom.
Lord, may I be restless in exile. Amen.
Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.