Then I moved to Argentina. I lived 15 years in what is truly the Deep South. I learned the language. I learned the customs. I dressed like an Argentine, ate like an Argentine, lived like an Argentine. But I wasn't Argentine through and through.
It would happen in a bread store or a hardware store. I'd be out on a normal errand and would ask for something I needed. The salesperson would cock their head in that funny way and make the accusation: "You're not from here, are you?"
It was my accent. It gave me away every time. As much as I could try and fool everyone, I wasn't really Argentine. I was a Texan in Argentine clothing. My accent gave me away.
The Bible talks about some people who had a different kind of accent. When talking about some of the great faith heroes from the past, the writer of the book of Hebrews notes:
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city (Hebrews 11:13-16).
These people had an accent. Not a Texan accent or an Argentine accent. Not even a Hebrew accent. They had a heavenly accent. They spoke in such a way that everybody knew they were on a journey, one that would end in heaven. They knew, as the old hymn says, "This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through." They were on their way to the city God was preparing.
The way they talked gave them away.
While I have trouble losing my Texan accent, I am often successful at masking my heavenly accent. While I stand out as being different when living in Argentina, I can blend in all too well with my earthly surroundings.