Dear Friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles , to abstain from sinful desires , which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:11-12)

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you; Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12:1-2) MSG

I wish I had known as a child that scripture verses like the above would become a comfort and strength to me.

I often felt like a foreigner, an exile, even an alien among the various relatives I lived with during my early childhood. Because of the specialized care both my parents needed for health issues, I was relocated multiple times to live with a variety of relatives – sometimes in different towns or even states – sometimes for a few months – occasionally a few years. Always, there were new rules to learn – houses, neighborhoods and towns/cities to navigate. My sister and I were together part of the time, but mostly I was alone. When I asked why, I was told, “You’ve just got to understand!”

When I was eleven, I was sent to live with an aunt and uncle in Denver and I have lived in the Denver metro area ever since. Although my aunt and uncle didn’t go to church, God blessed me with neighbors who took me with them. It was at church that I found family in the Lord.

Recently, after a lifetime, I’ve come to realize that those experiences were a gift from God. The scriptures above are about how we as followers of Jesus are to live in the world among people who do not know or often do not want to know God. How we live and our attitudes and actions, may draw some to want to know God. As I reflect on my past: those experiences of not fitting into my environment have become a help in “living in the now”.

How about you? As you follow Jesus in the world around you, what areas of your life can you look back on as having been a preparation for living in and walking with God “in the now”. Read 1 Peter and Romans. Ask God to show you the way he desires to use the gift of your life today.