I am often asked why we move so much. I don't really know what to say. This morning in church the message was from Acts 8 with Phillip and the Ethiopean eunuch. Phillip had been heading toward Jerusalem after preaching in Samaria when God told him to head toward Gaza on a desert road so he went and came across the eunuch reading Isa 53. It is a pretty familiar story that you can read if you would like. The thing that God pressed on my heart was the beginning of chapter 8 the reason that Phillip was up in Samaria was because of the persecution that caused the followers of Christ to scatter. The persecution didn't seem like a good thing at the time. They had to leave the comforts of home where they had friends and family to go into the unknown. If it hadn't have happened though how big would the church have grown? Because of the persecution followers of Christ were scattered and multiplied and their reach encompassed the known civilization.
The word scattered got to me. I don't like being scattered. I don't like leaving my friends and church family to go where I know no one BUT I don't go out and meet people if God doesn't "force" me to be scattered. I really would have preferred to stay in Rochester BUT if I had stayed in Rochester I would have stayed in my little bubble of Christian friends and not met the people that I have already met here and will meet in the days to come. I am lonely right now which makes me want to go out and meet people and get together with significant others of other med students which I wouldn't have needed to as much in Rochester. I know that I really need to allow God to scatter me. It is hard. I hate saying goodbye. I hate going to places where I know no one but God is faithful and proves Himself faithful again and again. I always see our scattering (moving) to be a bad thing but God always brings about good from it.
Thinking about the message and being scattered over the years brought me to a conclusion. I am thankful that I have been scattered. I have friends all over the country and all over the world that I know only because God has forced me to leave where I felt comfortable and step out in faith. There are people all over the world that pray for me because I was a part of their lives for a season. For that I am so grateful. There are 5 great churches that we have been a part of over the years that, when the time comes for us to go overseas, and even now, will pray for us because those who haven't had the "privilege" of being scattered so many times are still there and remember the impact that we have had on them for our short season there. For that I am eternally grateful. How many fewer people I would know if I stayed where I was comfortable instead of going where God lead? How many fewer people would I have impacted?
One thing that I was convicted of today though (and quite a bit over the last few months) is that I have gotten to know other followers of Christ and impacted them but I have not really gotten to know any non-Christians in the places where I have lived. Well, here in Syracuse I have already gotten to know a few people who are not followers of Christ. I am excited to develop relationships with them and also with some of Glenn's fellow medical students and their significant others. I have lived in a bubble for too long.
As I was sitting in church this morning part of Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns was going through my head:
"Oh,what I would do to have
the kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown
Where Jesus is,
And he's holding out his hand...
But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
the Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
and the Voice of truth says "this is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth"
I want that kind of faith. I am going to step out of my comfort zone and listen to the Voice of truth as I try to make an impact on this community for Christ. Our last morning in Rochester I woke up with the song God of this City on my heart, "Greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city." God has brought us to Syracuse for a reason. "There is no one like our God" and He is going to to great things and I want to be a part of it.
Speaking of which I really want to stay in our neighborhood. I am one to talk to my neighbors when I see them but not generally go out of my way to see them. If we move out of our neighborhood I may never see these people again to become friends with them. I guess that is a matter of prayer. We still don't know where we will be living at the beginning of August but we found out on Friday that we may be pre-approved for a mortgage. Our application (for which I still have to write a letter explaining why we have moved so much over the past year. Should I just send a link to my blog??) will go before a loan committee this week and they say yes we may be buying a house. There is one just 3 doors down that we like and they are asking an amount which is a bit less than it is worth and a bit more than we will probably get pre-approved for. We will see. If it is where God wants us He will work out the details.
Scattered. It is not a comfortable place to be. It is not an easy place to be. It is not a very desirable place to be or something that people seek after but, I am thankful to have been scattered and I know that God will scatter us again several times in the future should He tarry. I long to be purposeful where ever He scatters me to because the call is the same every time: "Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age." (Matt. 28:19-20, The Message)