Bedtime avoidance holds a top spot on my kids’ list of favorite pastimes. James and I are continually impressed by their creativity and tactics in eeking out an extra fifteen minutes.

Around 11 p.m., our Hollywood-worthy actress and filmmaker bounced onto the love seat in our bedroom with her latest feature vignette. This thirty-second hidden camera expose documented the unexpected secret life of our most reserved child. Candid Camera pales in comparison. Tears streaming down my cheeks, I laughed to the point of an excellent ab workout, resurrecting fond memories of runaway giggles with my own mother.

Tickled by something silly, mere snickers would escalate to pure hysteria. Beat red, nostrils dancing, the corners of my mother’s mouth would expand to the point of threatening her forehead as her laugh lines multiplied. Already well on my own way to a place of no return, from somewhere deep, uncontrollable laughter would seize my belly. There would be no returning! Carried away  each others’ contorted expressions, exhaustion would set in as we dabbed our eyes and attempted to catch our breath. If we were lucky, we’d gain control once more. Many times, the entire cycle would begin again.

A lighthearted moment.

I smile remembering.

She’s been gone twelve years. I miss her. Terribly. Yet she lives on in the giggles. Ours, and those shared with my daughters.

A recent memory surfaces in my belly. While schoolwork loomed, distraction knocked, and hysterics answered.

The girls’ schoolbooks mingled with lunch dishes on the kitchen island, and our new laptop hummed silent before us.  A young finger found the camera icon on the home screen and launched Photo Booth. Three familiar faces stare back. One click and we stepped into a place of no return. Something deep within me stirred. Click…we’re aliens! Another click…we’re Earnest P. “Know what I mean, Vern?” Click. Click. Click. We’re in a house of mirrors. Our faces stretch and twist, triggering fresh waves of gut-wrenching guffaws. Cares fall away. Only the moment matters.

A carefree memory forever etched itself in my gut.

Soon thereafter, as I  read Hebrews chapter eleven, alien images from our spontaneous lunchtime photo shoot resurface in my mind’s eye. Grinning, my mind’s eye peers down memory lane. Bug eyes full of wonder stare back from ballooned foreheads. One click returned our features to normal, but we can never be normal again.

And God began to teach me about spiritual things through what seemed like a simple time of unplanned goofiness and laughter. To teach me about being an alien.

As children of God, this is not our home. As sons and daughters of a heavenly Father, we are sojourners. By faith, we, like Abraham, live in a foreign land, a strange land belonging to another (Hebrews 11:9). John 15:19 says, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

We don’t belong. By faith, we are “heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him” (James 2:5), “looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10, NASB).

Eyes fixed on an eternal home, how do we survive the meantime? How do we live in the world without becoming part of it? Comfortable. Belonging.

First Peter 2:11 tells us, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.”

Clearly this is instruction for our alien existence her on earth, but how do we do it? How to we abstain from fleshly lusts?

Paul answers in 2 Corinthians 1:12:

For our boast is this: the testimony of our conscience,

that we conducted ourselves in the world

in simplicity and godly sincerity,

not with fleshly wisdom

but by the grace of God,

and more abundantly toward you.

Consider the underlying meaning of the words Paul selected.

Simplicity. Haplotēs in the Greek. We are to conduct ourselves with “sincerity, mental honesty; not self seeking, (with) openness of heart manifesting itself by generosity.”[1]

And with godly sincerity, so our conduct reflects “the things of God; whatever can in any respect be likened unto God, or resemble Him in any way; (as) God’s representative.”[2]Conduct examined under the Son’s light and found pure. Alien to this world for sure.

And what about “the testimony of our conscience”? Not our actions. Not our works. Not what is seen with the eye. Rather our motives. The secret attitudes of our hearts. Our thoughts. And our conduct is simply the witness that attests to our conscience, where we glorify God. Or despise Him.

First John 2:15-17 sums up our extraterrestrial existence:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Living in the world without loving the things of the world.

Again, how?

“Not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God” (see above).

Grace. Charis. “The merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, and increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of Christian virtues.”[3]

He does it in us. And we sojourn. In our promised land today – the abundant life promised by Jesus. Fixing our eyes on our future promised land – eternity with Him.

Aliens in this world.

Speaking of aliens, my husband LOVES a good space flick. From Planet of the Apes, to Alien vs. Predator and Cowboys vs. Aliens, he’s seen them all. Even the ones that never quite made the big screen. His eyes get dreamy. The final frontier beckons. And Hollywood transports him to outer space hours at a time. Try as I might, my avoidance tactics occasionally fail, and I find myself watching these movies with him, perplexed over the absurdity of it all. It simply makes no sense to me. Just as we won’t make sense to this world as we live in “simplicity and godly sincerity,not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God.”

[1]        Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for haplotēs (Strong’s 572)“. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 22 Jan 2012. <www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?
Strongs=G572&t=NKJV>

[2]        Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for theos (Strong’s 2316)“. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 22 Jan 2012. <www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?
Strongs=G2316&t=NKJV >

[3]        Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for charis (Strong’s 5485)“. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 18 Jan 2012. http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5485&t=NKJV.