A good friend of mine asked me this question. “Did God ever call anyone to stay in the Bible?” He made me think long and hard. Most of God’s followers were sent, not told to stay. And being sent is a concept that I think our generation understands well. We begin our adult lives, many of us, by being sent off to college, often in another city from our parents. First jobs can move us across the country. Marriages move us. Modern life seems to be a series of good bye, see you later, keep in touch on facebook. Yes, we are familiar with a God who sends.
But what about a God who asks you to stay?
This isn’t just a theoretical question, you see. David and I are called to stay. Even though I can tell you a list of qualities I would look for in a community, I won’t be going to find them. At least not in a new geographic location. Fifteen years ago God called our hearts to a particular church — Christ Fellowship — and a particular role within that church. He called us to relationships that are as sacred as marriage relationships. He called us to living out our kingdom journey in this place, to finding what works elsewhere only to bring it home. He called us to build a haven in one community, not many. God’s calling is a commitment.
Even in scripture, God does call people to stay. The apostles may have journeyed around, but notice that there are always people called to the places the apostles visit. There are women who hosted churches and prophets. There are permanent churches — for better or worse. There are people committed to their communities, committed to translating the teacher’s messages into practical actions in their day to day lives. Their names are sometimes scrawled at the end of Paul’s letters in the “give my greetings to…” section. They aren’t the top billing, but an honorable mention in scripture is still pretty good!
So to our family and friends who began yesterday to worry that we were wandering off to some new calling. rest easy. Our hearts are full with the people who do life together with us. God’s calling isn’t a burden, it’s a delight. There’s nowhere I’d rather be than South Florida, living the adventure one day at a time.