I HAD BEEN SPEAKING at a Nazarene retreat in Los Angeles the day before. And now I was in the Ontario airport, showing my ticket to board a plane for Calgary, AB, Canada, to begin another conference the following night. That’s when I realized my passport was missing. After a stressful (and expensive) thirty hours needed to acquire a new passport, I completed the journey and the Canadian conference successfully.
Along the way, I watched as servicemen said goodbye to loved ones; I conversed with state department workers, security agents and border guards, All the while I was reminded of how small my inconveniences of time, effort and resources to prove my citizenship were when placed alongside the sacrifices of those who daily guard our nation and preserve my right to even have a passport.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution, located in the Burial Ground of the Old Presbyterian Meeting House, honors an unidentified soldier whose remains were unearthed and reburied at this site in 1826. It honors him as well the many other patriots who died helping secure Independence for the United States of America, especially those who now rest in unmarked graves, reminding us of the gratitude we owe all who have served to enable the United States to remain a free and independent nation.
The epitaph that appears on the memorial declares, “Here lies a soldier of the Revolution whose identity is known but to God. His was an idealism that recognized a Supreme Being that planted religious liberty on our shores, that overthrew despotism, that established a people’s government, that wrote a Constitution setting metes and bounds of delegated authority, that fixed a standard of value upon men above gold and lifted high the torch of civil liberty along the pathway of mankind. In ourselves this soul exists as part of ours, his memory’s mansion.”
Carrying a USA passport remains something for which I am always grateful whenever I move about our world. I say with David of old, “I want the company of the godly men and women in the land; they are the true nobility … You have let me experience the joys of life and the exquisite pleasures of your own eternal presence” (Psalm 16).
So it is time once again to offer up a hearty thank you to those who first secured our Independence. And thank you to all who have maintained and defended it through the years. The Apostle Paul was proud to be a citizen of Rome (Acts 22:24-29). I am proud to be an American. Thanks to each and every one of you who has ever put on a military uniform, or dressed for duty as a police officer or a fire fighter. You keep our homes and cities and country safe and free. Thanks!
Still, after all is said and done, I’m even more thankful to be a citizen of that yet to be visited Eternal City. I have in my heart a passport guaranteed through the sacrifice of One God-Man on a solitary cross.
In America, we are celebrating our nation’s birth (the fourth of July). Whatever nation from which you hail, I hope you can be proud of it and that your passport gives you freedom to move about the world.
But most of all, I hope and pray you’ve chosen to be a citizen of the Eternal City. This citizenship is ours for the asking. No one who sincerely wants it will ever be refused. And regardless of what nation you come from, your Eternal City passport and mine look just alike. It can never be lost! The Lord Jesus Christ, has signed it, Himself.