Someone has to be that Mother.
That mother who drives a full 3 hours to the border with a packed mini-van and anxious kids and creeps through a 20 minute traffic backup under the hot, beating sun, only to rifle through her wallet and look up feebly to tell the custom’s officer she doesn’t have birth certificates for 2 of her children.
So that would be me.
“Do you have any ID at all — for either one of them?”
The custom’s officer asks it gently. Like he doesn’t want to push the flustered and flailing over any imagined or very real edge.
He glances back at the long snake of vehicles behind me, waiting. In the sun. That’s not moving either.
“Um… no.” I shuffle through my wallet again. “No, sir — I don’t.” Does the earth open up and swallow the Abiram of mothers?
“I’m so sorry, sir. If I can just turn around?” I close up my wallet and I can feel it up the neck, the face — the mother shame burning like a red-hot brand. How in the world? What kind of mother…. ?
I’m already cranking at the steering wheel, trying to get this mess turned around, thinking that when you can’t swallow down any grace, you turn yourself back from the land of the free.
“Just a moment, ma’am. Open up the door here.” He waves my passport in the direction of the van’s side door. I fumble behind me, try to unlatch it, still hoping the earth might open up instead. The officer pops his head in. “Birthdates, kids.”
Joshua states his month, day, year and Hope leans forward and I’m the realist who doesn’t hold out much hope at all.
The officer taps it into his computer, glances over at me, “And are they Canadian citizens?”
And I really try to say it like I’m not always a tentative Canadian, like it’s not a question, like I’m dubious, like I think he’s just gleefully extending the torture of my ineptness and embarrassment of not having one piece of paper to prove anything — because isn’t this the United States of America and when exactly did they start letting in hicks without a passport, without a birth certificate?
He looks up from the screen.
“Welcome to the United States, ma’am. Have a nice day.”
And he hands me my passport.
“Welcome?” Um … Really? “But if you let us into the States…” I stammer it out — “will Canada let us back in next week?”
“Well, if they are really Canadian citizens — ” the officer nods smiling, “if they are really Canadian citizens, they can’t be denied entry.”
I sit there shaking my head, stunned, and the officer keeps nodding his head, yes, and is entry in always firstly a matter of where you are born and being born again?
Twelve miles down the road and the kids and I are still laughing wonder right out loud, “Thank you, Lord, thank you, Lord, thank you, Lord!”
There’s a grace that let’s the impossible and failing in and how can we ever get over this?
We pass a church and it’s steeple pointing the way Home.
We turn a corner where a yellow house bursts like a full summer sun.
We drive by horses in a field with tails blowing free, with the sky big and round and circling, like the lid being lifted right off, and I feel this.
In Christ, you’re a native of heaven right now. You aren’t a citizen of here trying to work into heaven. You’re a citizen of heaven trying to work through here. The sky keeps unfolding all down the road.
When your ethnicity is heaven, then all adversity offers the gift of intimacy, driving you into the home of His heart.
I’m a mess and I keep driving, smiling, and I know my citizenship and where this road leads. Who in the world gets over this?
There are hills and there are detours and there is this getting lost and it feels so late and it can creep in everyday like the dusk, this feeling like a failure, and there is Scripture in the stereo, Hope in His Word, and I try to remember to breathe, lost and right turned around.
Because this is always it: All my brokenness is a whisper that I don’t belong, and every time I don’t feel like I belong, the Scarred and Rejected God whispers, “Come here, my beloved.”
And the longer I live, the more I feel like an exile. This is a gift. The exiled make His extravagant love their home.
We were made for heaven and Him and our heart beats hard for it.
Somewhere in upstate New York, the skies thunder.
A vehicle pulls out in front of us.
I read the license plate.
And the skies and the heavens are above and close and coming down all around and we’re all out here in the rain and His reign and we’re born again in Him and we are His and we are found.
In Christ — no matter the road, the storm, the story — we always know the outcome.
Our Savior: surrounds.
Our future: secure.
Our joy: certain.
And when a week brings us back to the border, and we cross the bridge without 2 birth certificates, I’m praying, praying God’s grace and Canadian customs will let us in. When heaven is really your motherland, then prayer is really your mother tongue, and you can’t help but yearn to speak in the language of your Father now.
As I pull into the line for custom’s, praying they’ll let us home, Joshua yells it from behind me — “Rainbow!”
Really? It’s like a welcome home!
“No — no, it’s not a rainbow…” says Joshua, and I don’t have to see him behind my driver’s seat to know how his voice, his eyes are searching, reading everything above.
“It’s a double rainbow.”
And I glance over my shoulder — and it’s right there in living color like a signed vow straight across the sky.
Right there as I pull up to Canadian Customs, and I tell a doubtful officer my ridiculous grace story, show her my passport, and the Canadian customs officer shakes her head, “I can’t believe they let you in.
There’s this double rainbow arching over us right there.
All I have is what I believe and the living of it and His promises are enough.
There isn’t a loss on earth that can ever rob us of the riches our Lord has saved us for in Him.
And there’s no getting over this miracle of entering into the country of our citizenship, of the failing belonging in Him and His Grace –— all the heavens low and open and waiting and all the sky this flag.
This flag flying in the unwavering hues of the promise of Home.