John Telgren

I remember traveling to the other side of the world into the former Soviet Union a couple of years after it broke up. I remember stepping out of the plane and into the terminal. All of the lights were out except for a single bulb over the person who was checking passports. This place was so strange and different and slightly scary. All the official were wearing military style uniforms. Many of the old stereotypes of Russians were running through my head. It dawned on me that I had never been this far away from home before. Jesus said that he would be with us even to the end of the earth. It felt as if I had gone to the end of the earth. We were going to do this. A lot of time and preparation had gone into doing this trip. In the end, we grew to love the people we met. They were so eager to learn something from the Bible. That was the longest trip I had ever made. Home seemed so far away. I couldn't just pick up the phone and call him, and in those days there was no wifi through which you could send emails, instant messages, or any of the other types of communication we have now.

In a sense, we are all travelers from a foreign place. The Bible calls us aliens and strangers in the world (1 Pet 2:11). Our home is not of this world. When we step into the family of God and begin to make the journey, we become enculturated into a "Christian" culture that can at times make us seem as foreigners in our own back yard. Jesus said he would return and those of us that belong to him will meet him in the air (1 Cor 15:23; 1 Thess 4:17). I can only imagine what that journey will be like. The major difference will be that instead of feeling like we are far from home, for the first time, we truly will be at home with the Lord.

Like any trip we take, we need to make sure we have prepared and are ready for the trip. Instead of packing luggage, we fill our lives with good deeds done in the name of Christ. Instead of buying tickets, we recognize that Jesus has already purchased our tickets and it is up to us to claim them. Instead of making note of the departure time, we recognize that no one knows when that is, so we make ourselves ready at any time for the trip.

So the question should always be, "Am I packed and ready to go at a moment's notice?" I remember having our bags packed when Stacey was expecting. At any moment, she could have gone into labor and we were ready because our bags were already packed. That is how it is for our journey to Heaven. Our bags need to be packed with faith (Mk 16:16), repentance (Acts 3:19), baptism (Acts 2:38; Rom 6:1-7), service to others in the name of Christ (Mk 9:41; 10:21f), Christian character and fruit (2 Pet 1:5-11), and following Jesus in all of this (Jn 8:12). If we have this, then we are ready to travel.