One might think that living in a place with so much familiarity would be comforting. Yet, moving back to the town in which I grew up has forced a fear to the surface.
I'm scared that I will get too comfortable.
Or too complacent. Or boring.
Or that I'll fall into a pattern of life that will ultimately quench my passion to be part of God's radical love plan for the world.
It seems I'm afraid to stay put. And I'm not alone.
Recently, a good friend who spent years as a missionary in various nations confided in me that she's nervous about life back in her hometown. "We bought a house. And now we bought a minivan. It seems so...permanent," she shared.
Somewhere new or settling down
There is something sexy about going somewhere new and unknown. I've felt courageous in telling a church that I sense God calling me overseas. But telling family and friends that you're going to settle down? Yawn. Talk about maintaining the status quo.
My somewhat irrational, internal narrative is echoed on one end of the cultural spectrum. Take social media trends of #wanderlust for example. Or Instagram feeds of cool, young hipsters hiking mountain passes, dipping their feet in oceans, and risking life to take photos of it all.
Despite this, I do think there is a bit of a shift happening in the dialogue of Western Christian culture, at least in the 30-year-old-plus crowd. Perhaps it's a coming of age thing, but many are praising the act of staying to be mission-minded in their communities. It includes singles, marrieds, business folks and artists.
A Toronto-based movement called "Move In" is one example. It sees members living in shared housing in some of the "worst" neighbourhoods in Canada's biggest cities. This usually puts them in the mix of new immigrants, refugees and often the poor and needy. Going can mean simply going down the street to live among those from another continent.
A passion for home
Yet, going for so many of us does mean actually going far away. I spent nearly five years in Australia working with a mission organization that trains hundreds of young people each year. They're eager to learn more about God and then share His love with the nations.
Perhaps God trained and equipped us abroad, so that we would return with a greater passion to see His transformative love take hold, not just in the far away nations, but in our own towns. I've seen Him radically change lives in foreign lands. So why wouldn't He do the same thing in my neighbourhood?
Comfortable isn't comforting
We can become too familiar or too accustomed to life anywhere, really. There is an assumption that going somewhere new will spur us to action; that it will be exciting. And it will. For a period of time, until it becomes too comfortable, making a someone like me decide it's time to move on again.
My knee-jerk reaction is that God must be doing awesome things elsewhere. There's no way he's doing something, right here. I find it challenging at times to see how my everyday life and interactions play a part in the Great Commission.
A recent article in Relevant magazine highlighted that struggle:
In some ways, staying might be more uncomfortable than sleeping on a dirt floor in India and eating strange food in Liberia. Our mission with God plays out in how we walk, talk, eat, commute, party, pray, participate, communicate, spend money, make money and invest our time wherever we are.
You don't need to take God somewhere; He's already there. God is doing local work among the people you already know and community you are already in.
Alan Briggs. Yes, God is calling you to be a missionary.
Relevant. September 3, 2015
God is in the going and staying
Missionary Floyd McClung writes, "I don't want to be sitting in suburbia watching television while God changes the world. I want to be on the frontline." McClung. Living on the Devil's Doorstep.
I'm perhaps one of the least likely to admit it, but the frontline for some of us might actually be in the heart of suburbia. Behind closed garage doors, picket fences and manicured lawns are messy lives that need the love of God. We, as His ambassadors, get to show that love to the people around us. It might be on the back streets of a distant land, but it could just as likely be on the tree-lined avenue of your small town.
We have the amazing opportunity to decide whether we want to be part of what He's doing, wherever we are. More than a century ago, J. Campbell White wrote in the Laymen's Missionary Movement, "The men who are putting everything into Christ's undertaking are getting out of life its sweetest and most priceless rewards."
For me, that's a reason worth staying for.
Lisa Goetze is a 30-something woman trying to love Jesus and love people. She's on a journey to find how to do this best through her love for turning ordinary spaces into welcoming ones, encouraging women of all ages to recognize their value and whenever possible including coffee and good food.
Lisa Goetze's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/lisa-goetze.html" target="_blank">www.pressserviceinternational.org/lisa-goetze.html