I have a dear friend who lives in a Chicago suburb. When I visited, I discovered that 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 a 5 or 10 minute walk or drive.
Having become accustomed to small town living, which is only 20 to 30 minute driving distance 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 need to have something right now.
We had been discussing geographical locations of course, but I wonder how many of us find ourselves wishing the same thing about where we are in our spiritual lives. I know I have at times.
There have been seasons of life when I found myself “in the middle of nowhere” with regards to my walk with God. It’s not that I wasn’t walking with Him, it’s that my walk with Him was a bit removed from all those around me in those moments of my life. And I must admit that there were days when I found myself 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.” Because I really thought I wanted to be in the center of the action, to be doing something that seemed more productive and meaningful than sitting out in the middle of nowhere, 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. Maybe it’s because when we are in the middle of the hustle and bustle we can distract ourselves from the difficult things, the scary things, the overwhelming things that we need to deal with in our lives. We can postpone the hard work, the fear, the grief we should be dealing with 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 have learned that if God has us out in the middle of nowhere, He has a plan and a purpose for it. He loves us far too much not to redirect us when we need it. He wants to be our “go to guy” and if He has to take us far away from everyone and everything so we can learn to fully rely on Him, He will.
The reality is we need to embrace the place God has us in, to learn in it, to trust in God completely and surrender to His plans. The more we wish and strive to be closer to somewhere instead of being fully present in the middle of nowhere, the more discontent we will become and the more prolonged the process will be. God has our best interest at heart and He will keep us where He needs to so that our character will be developed and we can truly do all He intends us to do.
Maybe you are finding yourself in the middle of nowhere right now. Maybe it is a scary place for you to be. Just know that God holds you in the palm of His hand and that He has a plan and a purpose for every season you experience.
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
If I can pray for you in any way, please leave a comment below.