My youngest sister had offered us the use of their condo in Dominican Republic and we were flying down eager for the hot sun. But our eagerness was nothing compared to the guy sitting next to me. Wendy was by the window, I was in the middle seat and this guy named Alex was on the aisle.
Alex lives and works as a drywaller in the Vancouver area, but he’s originally from the Dominican. We began chatting when I noticed he became rather tense when we went through some turbulence. “I don’t like to fly,” he confided in me in a heavy Dominican accent.
I discovered that Alex had come to Canada some twenty years ago looking for work when the economy at home was particularly depressed. He began in Montreal but for the last five or six years had found better work on the West Coast.
I plied him for insider information about what to look for, where to find the best foods, his favorite rum and so on. But he became very distracted when Wendy pointed out an island she could see below us. Alex suggested it was one of the southernmost Islands of the Bahamas which meant we were almost at our destination.
As he leaned across me to try to catch a glimpse out the window he confessed, “I haven’t been home since 2009. I haven’t seen my mother for seven years.”
Wendy and I were both moved by his growing excitement. The closer we got the more animated he got, and talked about his mother and what he missed about his home till he was fairly vibrating. Then as the pilot announced preparation for final approach and the plane banked to line up with the runway Alex finally saw the lush green mountains of his homeland and exclaimed with pride in his voice and tears in his eyes, “There’s my country! There’s my country!”
The poor guy could hardly stand himself as we taxied in and waited impatiently for the doors to open and the passengers to slowly file out of the aircraft. When he finally stepped off and breathed that first scent of heavy tropical air I thought he would just burst.
As I bid my new friend farewell I realized I’d just seen a picture of what Paul was feeling when he knew he was getting close said “I long to go and be with Christ.” (Philippians 1:23)
Hebrews 11:16 talks about people who “long for a better country – a heavenly one.” Wouldn’t you like to be one of those who longs for their country and their Father, instead of fearing death? The greater your intimacy with Jesus, the greater will be your longing.