I recently had the privilege of visiting with a dear friend who lives in a Chicago suburb. Like most large metropolitan areas, all the cities run right into each other. While driving to the art store, we were having the discussion about how convenient it can be to live in an area where there is a well known coffee shop on every corner and anything you might truly have a need for is within 10 minutes.
Having become accustomed to small town living, which is only 20 to 30 minutes from all of the amenities I usually have need of, I commented that I didn’t really mind living away from the hustle and bustle of city life. She surprised me when she said “Oh, I would live in the middle of nowhere if it were closer to somewhere.” I had a nice little chuckle over that as she tried to explain her seemingly contradictory statement. I understood what she meant though, sometimes we long for solitude but we want to have the ability to just jump right back into the middle of the action whenever our hearts desire, whenever we get bored or lonely, whenever we feel we have to have something right now.
That conversation has really been stuck in my thoughts though, and it keeps jumping out at me. We had been discussing geographical locals but I wonder how many of us find ourselves wishing the same thing about where we are in our spiritual lives.
I have found myself “in the middle of nowhere” for a while now in where I am operating in my walk with God. It’s not that I am not walking with Him, it’s that my walk with Him is a bit removed from all those around me during this season of my life. And I must admit that there are days when I find my self thinking, I wouldn’t mind being out here if only it were closer to where I want to be, where I think I should be, where I think this path God has me on is leading. I want to be in the center of the action, to be doing something I think is more productive and meaningful that sitting out in the wilderness, just God and me. I want to be a light and an encouragement to others, I want to shine shine shine so others can see the hope and joy there is in living for God. And truthfully, sometimes I want to whine whine whine to my friends so they can remind me of the hope and joy found in God.
Have you ever found yourself in a similar place? The temptation is to pack up camp and go be in that place we think we ought to be. I think it’s because when we are in the middle of the hustle and bustle we can distract ourselves from the difficult things we need to deal with in our own lives. We can postpone the hard work we should be doing by allowing our friends to be our sole comfort and guidance. We think that if we are surrounded by other people and other things it would be so much easier. And while there is benefit in being able to share our burdens with others, I am learning that if God has us out in the middle of nowhere, He has a plan and a purpose for it. He wants to be our “go to guy” and if He has to take us out far away from everyone and everything else so we can learn that, He will.
It would behoove us all to embrace the place God has us in, to learn in it, to trust and rely on God fully. I think that the more we wish & strive to be closer to somewhere instead of being fully present where we are, the longer God will keep us in the middle of nowhere.