This picture isn't of me, but in many ways, this girl IS me and is so representative of my thoughts about my country.
I have a very soft spot in my heart for the 4th of July and all that we celebrate today. As an American girl who moved to Canada at age 8, something wonderful happened to my patriotism. . . at least I think it was wonderful.
I always loved being an American, but I don't think I gave it much thought until I was in a new country, looking back across the border. As a little girl growing up in rural Iowa, the 4th of July was about fireworks and family and community and fun--pure Americana at its best! When we moved to Canada I learned about what was then called Dominion Day, Canada's equivalent to our 4th of July but celebrated on July 1st. I didn't mind celebrating Canada's independence, but I did very much mind that there were no 4th of July fireworks to go with it!
As I got older, although I deeply loved my home in beautiful British Columbia, and it too is a freedom-loving country with wonderful values, I became increasingly aware of missing my homeland. In high school, I frequently wore red, white, and blue and got into heated arguments with some of my teachers who weren't America's biggest fans--talk about fireworks!! I rooted for the U.S.A. hockey team in the 1980 Olympics, which was rather frowned upon in the heart of hockey-loving Canada! How I did relish that victory, especially when it was so against the odds and I had gone out on such a limb with all my Canadian friends!
I do passionately love my country. I ache for her, pray for her, vote for her and thank God for her. It was so good of Him to allow me to return to her. Over the years, it has occurred to me more than once, that my American patriotism and my experience of longing for home when I was away, is a mere shadow of the longing I have in my heart for another country, my real home, my heavenly homeland with Jesus.
". . .they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth
. . .they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.
Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God"
Hebrews 11:13b, 16 (NIV)
So yes, I passionately long for Home, and often run into naysayers who think it doesn't exist or don't believe that Heaven's team wins the final victory. In spite of that, just as I loved my adopted homeland of Canada and the dear friends I made there, I love life on earth too and value it highly as a wonderful gift from God. Though this is my temporary home, I make the most of every day, enjoy the unique blessings of this place, and love the people God puts in my life. I try to seize each earth day and live it well, but I also try to live with my eternal home in mind, knowing that someday I will get to cross another border and finally go home where I belong . . . and stay there forever!
Living with heaven in my heart helps me keep the ups and downs of life on earth in perspective. There is always a perfect "someday" out there ahead of me that lets me know that the aggravations of being earthbound will one day be over and done! Not only that, it enhances my life here too. With a heart turned heavenward, I am more sensitive to the glitter that sparkles off God's glory in the good and perfect gifts He gives every day. If the good things here are only tiny hints at Heaven, I wonder what the fireworks in Heaven will be like! I hope you'll come with me and find out!