Birth Certificates?  Check.  Identification with Picture?  Check.  Official Photographs?  Check.  Completed Applications?  Check.  Checkbook?  Check.  We had everything we needed as we drove to the Mount Clemens Post Office for our 11:00 a.m. appointment.  The line was short … the process was efficient … all of the people were exceptionally friendly … and there were no surprises or hiccups.  We were back in our van headed home by 11:15, and in something like 10-13 weeks we should be receiving our first-ever passports.
I know what you are thinking:  Seventy years old and you have never been to a foreign country?  That is correct (Monica spent a few hours in Mexico as a child, but that is a different story).  We have both been to Canada, but it was so long ago that we did not need anything special (way back before 9/11).  Nor did we need anything more than a Birth Certificate on our two Caribbean cruises.  The one we have booked for 2024 will be different – and we don’t want to pass any ports!  Plus, we wouldn’t mind visiting again some of those beautiful parks in Windsor … or, perhaps, heading south through Canada to get to New England sometime.  Who knows, this might even open the door to a trip to Europe someday.
In the past, between working, family commitments, and owning a cottage, our time was pretty well booked.  Now, retired as I am, we figured at least to get to the cottage more (unfortunately, this has not worked out so far … hopefully it will down the road).  While our time is certainly limited, it seems as though the fun things to do in life come with unlimited options!  Somewhere in the mix one is confronted with the question, “How important are all of these things?”  There are so many potential ports that clamor for our attention that other ports are easily passed without even a notice or a nod.
In the time management classes I took a few decades ago, we talked about urgent/not urgent and important/not important.  The first items to be addressed are both urgent and important.  Many things (like opening the mail the moment it arrives) cry “urgent” but, since they are not really important, can normally be delayed.  The most difficult to address generally are those things that are important, but do not scream “urgent”.  However, life is much more peaceful and satisfying when we address those “important” things before they become urgent.
Take, for example, our appointment at the Post Office.  The appointment was made last week, and the paperwork assembled and completed at the same time.  We arrived early for our appointment.  No stress … in fact, a fun experience.  And we don’t actually need the passports until nine months from now.  I know this morning would have been very different if I hadn’t done the prep work ahead of time … and picture, if you will, our stress if we did not plan for the 10-13 week wait!  Prioritizing is important … and focusing upon the important things before they become urgent is very helpful.  And, of course, many issues in life are much more important than passport purchases.
Robert Barron addressed these more important priorities with the 2023 graduates of Hillsdale College in the form of a question.  “What kind of soul will you have?  What kind of person will you be?  Will you do whatever it takes to get what you want?  Or will you accept even great suffering to do what is right?  Everything else in your life will flow from your answer to that question.” (Imprimis.  June 2023.  Volume 52, Number 6)
At the end of it all, there is a port that many will pass … one that many others ignore until it becomes urgent (and thus miss out on many years of peace and satisfaction).  The port is identified by Thomas R. Taylor in his hymn, “I’m But a Stranger Here.”  I have sung it at many funerals.  “I’m but a stranger here, heaven is my home.  Earth is a desert drear, heaven is my home.  Danger and sorrow stand round me on every hand; Heaven is my fatherland, heaven is my home.” (LSB 748, v. 1)  Those who fail to address the importance of this port end up passing it by and tumbling into the abyss of eternal despair.
Jesus addresses this very issue when he says, “Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going. … I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14.1-6)
This takes me back to what I said earlier  There are so many potential ports that clamor for our attention that other ports are easily passed without even a notice or a nod.  Thoughts about eternity seldom seem urgent, but unless one recognizes their importance, our fatherland is a port that is passed.
Earth may not appear to us as a “dessert drear” with all of its pleasure ports clamoring for our attention.  We may not recognize the “danger and sorrow” that stand round us.  In the same way I may never get to Europe nor always get my priorities right.  But I do keep my Passport to Heaven handy (It’s called Baptismal Certificate).   “Therefore, I murmur not, heaven is my home.  Whatever my earthly lot, heaven is my home.  And I shall surely stand there at my Lord’s right hand; heaven is my fatherland, heaven is my home.” (LSB 748, v. 3)
Might this be a port you are passing by because of those “urgent” screams you keep hearing?  Important promises: “It is by grace we are saved, through faith” (Ephesians 2.8) … and “faith comes through hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10.17) And remember, it is not just about eternity.  These same promises provide peace and stress relief at every port along the way.

Port Passing