Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Purpose: Place

In the same way that God might only reveal to what people He has called you, leaving the rest of the details to fill themselves in as you go, so, too, He might tell you only the place to which you are called. And once again, the details will fill themselves in along the way.

But you have to be willing to move.

This idea is a large part of the Old Testament testimony - it's Israel's entire journey, from the time that God first called Abram and promised him countless descendants in the land in which he was living to the day that He parted the Red Sea and started leading Israel to the Promised Land to the moment He called Ezra and Nehemiah back to begin rebuilding a ravaged Jerusalem. God's people have always been about a place, and it is no different for many of them today.

Today, this idea is likely to conjure up images of missionaries, those who have clearly experienced a call to a certain land. It's how they end up in places like Kenya or Ecuador or Papua New Guinea. We can't imagine that anyone would just pick up and go to a place like that unless it was the place to which God called them. And that's true. But this idea is not limited to such grand migrations.

It can be as simple as the pastor who knows he is called to a little country church. Or the volunteer whose best work is done on the streets. Or the couple for whom it's clear that "home" is a certain city, like San Francisco or Las Vegas. It can even be as simple as the student who knows God has called her to one university over another. 

I often run into that one myself. Sometimes, I wonder what in the world I am doing as a seminarian. I look around at my peers, and I'm not sure how I fit in. But then I'll go to an on-campus class and feel so at home that I start to have this undeniable sense that this is my place. This is exactly where God wants me to be. And since this is my place, I open my eyes anew and see that these are my people. And since this is my place and these are my people, this is my thing. At least, for now.

The same is true for anyone who is called to a place. When you get to where you're going, you find the answers to your other burning questions. 

The pastor who is called to a little country church finds his congregation when he gets there. They are his people, not necessarily because he would have chosen them, but because this is his place. It's his place and their place, so they are his people. The woman whose best work is done on the streets is a woman whose people are street people. I mean, this isn't rocket science. A couple who finds themselves called to San Francisco may discover that their people are the LGBT community; a couple who calls Las Vegas home may be peopled with prostitutes. Forgive the stereotypes for a minute, but you see what I'm saying - when God calls you to a place, the people you find there are your people. 

And whatever you do for them there, that's your thing. The pastor may not have ever owned a dog, let alone a chicken. He may not have cared for a cactus, let alone a garden. But in the country, he may find himself doing just this. Why? Because there's a certain economy in the country that runs on eggs and zucchini. (Just kidding. A pastor never has to grow his own zucchini - he gets plenty as it is.) A woman who works on the streets may have zero practical nursing experience, but out here, she bandages wounds. Why? Because there are plenty of wounds and no nurses.

Once again, we find that purpose doesn't have to give all the answers before you go. It starts with just one word. It can start with a people, as we saw yesterday, or it can start with a place. When you go on God's word, the rest of the questions tend to sort themselves out. You go to your place and there, you find your people. Because it's their place, too. And you find your thing. Because it's clear what they need. 

So the best thing you can do if you know where God is calling you, is to go. Just go. See what you discover when you get there.

And do good. 

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