I have been visiting Sweden since I joined my first ship in Göteborg in October 1973. We often docked in Swedish ports during the time I spent serving at sea, but I have also visited the country many times on business over the last twenty years. Last year I was blessed to spend eight days on holiday in beautiful West Sweden with Marilyn and our two youngest children.
I was reflecting on my visits to Sweden while in Stockholm on business this week. I think I have probably been to Sweden more than any other country. I have seen Sweden in all its seasons from the cold and dark of winter to the midnight sun. I have travelled north and south, east and west, and to some of the islands. My knowledge of the Swedish language remains limited, but because of my colouring and blue eyes I have many encounters in which locals who don’t know me assume that I am one of them – a Swede.
Even if I had lived in Sweden for years and became a fluent Swedish speaker I don’t think that I would ever become a Swede. My heart belongs to a small island in the English Channel where I grew up. I am most definitely British and will remain so for the rest of my days, regardless of where I live.
Despite feeling at home in Great Britain it is not my home. I remain an alien and a stranger here, just like I am in Sweden. Sweden is a great place to visit but it isn’t home. I don’t belong there and despite the affinity I have developed with the country I am always glad to be home again with my family after a visit.
However, I really should not get too comfortable in the place I call home on earth. Jesus made it quite clear that Earth, as we know it, is not our home. We are just passing through. We should not be making ourselves comfortable here but we should be fixing our eyes and our hearts on our forever home with God. And if the place that God is preparing for us seems like a distant foreign land then what better way to prepare for our relocation than immersing ourselves daily in the Guidebook God has provided, and getting better acquainted with the Tour Guide.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega – the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.” (Revelation 21:1-7 NLT)