A few years ago my family and I became American citizens. After the prescribed number of years since we got our “green card”, we were able to start the application process for citizenship.
Quite a few interviews and tests later we were approved to receive our citizenship certificates.
We had this real nice ceremony at the Federal Building in Cleveland, where the judge greeted a couple hundred people that had completed the same process we did, and went forward to say how this country was formed by people like us that came here and made this their new home. After his speech, the judge personally delivered each certificate and welcomed us.
At the end of the ceremony I approached one of the immigration officers, and told him we needed to call the judge back. He was surprised with my request and asked why. I said something went wrong. Even more surprised, he asked what had gone wrong. “My accent”, I replied, “it is still here. I am an American citizen now; I shouldn’t be talking like this”. We both laughed as I left.
The truth is: even after 19 years in this country, I still carry the marks of my upbringing.
When I think of our life in general, I conclude it is not that different. What we are today is a result of our personal characteristics and the experiences we have had in life. Good and bad.
Even as we get transformed by the Holy Spirit, He doesn’t eliminate who we are. He uses it. It is amazing to see how God allows us to retain our identity as we mold our character by His control.
When I read the scriptures I notice Peter’s boldness, Paul’s determination, John’s love being their marks even as they are progressively transformed by the Lord.
They were still who they were, and God used them that way.
So, when I think of my life, and who I am, I pray that God will use me to impact lives that need that certain type of influence.
I want to keep on growing closer to Him, and becoming more like Him. At the same time, I know He can use me as I am. I can’t let bitterness, regret, pride, or any other feelings prevent me from living the fantastic adventure of being an instrument on His hands.
And talking about citizenship, let’s not forget that “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). You are a foreigner too. Here just temporarily.