When we severed our ties with the fatherland, we became not only strangers among strangers, but we were cut of from our own nation and became strangers to our own people. Our pulse no longer throbs in the rhythm with the hearts of our kindred. We have become strangers;strangers to those we left and strangers to those we came to....Let me repeat:We have become outsiders to the people we left, and we have become outsiders among the people to whom we came. Thus we have ceased to be a harmonious part of a greater whole;we have become something apart,something torn loose, without any organic connections either here in America or over in Norway....In short, we have become rootless. (Ole E Rolvaag, The third life of Per Smervik)
I read this recently and it really jumped out at me. As an immigrant it speaks to me and describes richly what I have felt. Having left Scotland and come to America I no longer belonged anywhere. In America I, with my accent, will always be a foreigner and thus not truly American, not American born and bred. And as someone who left the old country behind then I have become a stranger to the people in the land of my birth. It can be deeply impactful and disorienting to live in this state of rootlessness.
It has deeply pained me at various times in my life. Yet, in all of this, there has been an anchor for my soul. Having been born again into the Kingdom of God and having become a stranger to this world I realize that my experience is a deeply biblical one. Time and time again we are told in the Scriptures that we are pilgrims an sojourners, strangers and aliens and exiles in this present world. "But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them." (Heb 11:16)
The desire of almost every man or women who left all that they have known behind and struck out into the great unknown was the desire for a "better country," a better way of life, better prospects a future for their children. I felt that deeply myself in coming to America. Now, prior to coming to Jesus I was deeply disturbed by who I was. There was a great desire in me to find peace from the raging storm, to find holiness from a life of sin, to be a better man, actually to be a man period. I was looking for the "better country," of life itself. I found that and I was born again into a kingdom that was not of this world and became an altogether stranger.
Now not only estranged from Scotland and a stranger in America, now I had become a stranger to this whole world. A world where I would never belong, a world in which I had become an exile, an alien, a sojourner, a pilgrim merely passing through belonging to no where in this world but belonging, by virtue of my new birth, to a land that was and is and is to come. Yet, glory to God, now I was no longer rootless. I was no stranger to my fellow strangers, to my fellow pilgrims. I now belonged to them with ties that ran to the depths of my very soul. So to my fellow pilgrims and sojourners I say lift up your heads and take one more step, for every step leads us one step closer to where we have never been yet have always belonged......bro Frank