"In tense places of transition the temptation is to run to a seemingly bigger & better opportunity. But incarnation calls us to deeper roots."I talked in my M post about the advice someone gave me to "Bloom where you're planted" and said I would talk about it a little further in my Z post. So here it is!
In the Spring of 2011 I took a course on the Mission of God in the world. At some point during that class someone mentioned Jeremiah 29 - it may have been the professor, or it may have been one of my classmates. Everybody knows verse 11; but for the first time my attention was drawn to verses 4-7:
4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (NIV)God was speaking to people who were in a foreign land, away from home, and many were likely separated from friends and family. He instructed them to live life where they were at. (Maybe this is where the Vulcan greeting to "live long and prosper" came from...? You never know.)
I have always been a person who would "move in" to a place without actually "moving in." Like...I would move my boxes in and unpack half or most of them and never get to the rest. I hardly ever hang anything on the walls, and for almost two years I slept on a mattress on the floor at one of my residences...just never bothered to buy a bed frame. (And when I did finally buy a bed frame, I was putting it all together and found a HUGE spider in my sheets at the foot of my bed, so that pretty much made me never want to sleep on a mattress on the floor again ever.) Part of this might be due to my personality...physical surroundings don't matter all that much to me (to a degree). But I think it was a sign of something deeper.
I always felt like I was in a transitional position, like wherever I was, I wouldn't be there long, so why get comfortable? I did end up getting close to some friends in Joplin, but not until the second half of the ten years I lived there.
It felt like God pointed this Scripture out to me and was telling me to put down roots wherever I found myself - to engage with people and experiences that presented themselves, even if there was a risk that I could be uprooted and moved to another place at some point. It felt like maybe He was telling me that though there was a chance I would experience loss or pain, the relationships and memories made along the way would be more than worth it.
So the last couple of years, that is what I have been trying to do. In fact, I have succeeded more in the last few months than ever before!
And now I see this tweet from Zach that further deepens the idea and relates it to incarnational ministry. Just as Jesus took on the form of a servant (see Philippians 2) and became one of us and shared life with us, so we too best serve and enrich life for others when we become "one of them" and share life with them. Pretty incredible.