Staying in Places

Whenever I hear someone discuss a situation where they feel dissatisfied and begin to explain why God wouldn’t want them to be there, I always wonder to myself, “What if those things are exactly the reason God does want you there?” There is often value when we stay in places … even the hard and uncomfortable places.

Welcome to day 9 of STAND OUT: 7 traits of a counter cultural life. You can find an index of every post in this series here.

A few years ago in a hospital waiting room, I was listening to my pastor at the time speak with a gentlemen who wanted to quit his job.  The man said he knew God didn’t want him to continue to work there because his coworkers used foul language. The man’s position was God would never put him in a place where he would be uncomfortable or forced to listen to the Lord’s name taken in vain.

My pastor listened carefully to everything the man said then replied with just one question, “What if those things are exactly the reason God does want you there?”

That conversation has stuck with me. Whenever I hear someone discuss a situation where they feel dissatisfied and begin to explain why God wouldn’t want them to be there, I often wonder to myself, “What if those things are exactly the reason God does want you there?”

Today I want to explore the value of staying in places … even the hard and uncomfortable places.  We’ll look at how commitment {staying when we’d rather go} is a counter cultural trait and what our testimony becomes when we choose to stay.

Whenever I hear someone discuss a situation where they feel dissatisfied and begin to explain why God wouldn’t want them to be there, I always wonder to myself, “What if those things are exactly the reason God does want you there?” There is often value when we stay in places … even the hard and uncomfortable places.

Commitment is counter cultural.

We live in an instant gratification culture where the highest value is what makes me feel comfortable and happy. If a workplace isn’t meeting our expectations, it’s time to change jobs. If our church doesn’t do all the things we like, we find a new one. If we don’t like the way a community organization is run, we find a new group to join.

Is that always wrong? Nope. But is it always right? Absolutely not!

Choosing to stay when our culture screams, “You should go!” is not an easy choice. But it must always be a prayerful one.  A few months ago, I read an article on Desiring God that struck a chord with me.  David Mathis was writing about becoming a member of local church.  He says,

One of the most counter-cultural things you can do is become an engaged member of a faithful local church.

In our flighty and noncommittal age, neither non-Christians nor Christians are naturally inclined to find a place to put down roots and make longstanding, objective commitments for the good of others. We want to keep our options open and, above all, preserve our own freedom of choice, rather than make a covenant for the long haul and embrace a framework for real life in all its ups and downs.

But what if you went against the grain and became part of the solution to the modern problem of being so noncommittal? What if you joined the rebellion, and pledged your loyalty and engagement to a Bible-believing, gospel-cherishing local church?

While Mathis was writing specifically about joining a church, I think we can also see how staying in a job or continuing to serve a community organization can also provide the same evidence of counter cultural values. Many of my peers are quick to assume a job that pays more money or offers more advancement is automatically an open door from the Lord. But what if God isn’t always calling us to bigger and better.  What if His invitation to us sometimes is to stay put and dig deep so we can make a larger impact?

We live in an instant gratification culture where the highest value is what makes me feel comfortable and happy. If a workplace isn’t meeting our expectations, it’s time to change jobs. If our church doesn’t do all the things we like, we find a new one. If we don’t like the way a community organization is run, we find a new group to join. Is that always wrong? Nope. But is it always right? Absolutely not! Choosing to stay when our culture screams, “You should go!” is not an easy choice. But it must always be a prayerful one.

What if God isn't always calling us to bigger and better? #StandOut #write31days Click To Tweet

Staying in Places Impacts our Testimony

As I was studying for this series, I spent several hours looking at Scriptures that encourage us to be committed to where we are.  I considered the story of Joseph. He was sold by his brothers but chose to serve Potiphar well.  He was falsely accused but chose to build relationships with others in prison with him. Every step along the way, Joseph was faithful to the place he was. He worked hard in Potiphar’s house. He gained the respect of the men he encountered in prison.

Obviously, Joseph wasn’t in a position where he could just leave. But, he was able to choose how he responded to the situations he was in. And ultimately, God used all those circumstances to place Joseph in a position to provide for his own family. Joseph graciously said to his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good …” {Genesis 50:20}

Sometimes God calls us to stay in difficult places because He is using all of it for our good and for His glory. Click To Tweet

So what do we gain when we stay put?

Staying produces fruit in us.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  James 1:2-3

Staying reveals our contentment in Christ.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13

I am not saying we should always stay in difficult places. But I am saying we need to be prayerfully seeking the face of God and asking for wisdom {James 1:5} as we make the decision to stay or go.  We need to ask ourselves why we want to go and evaluate if those reasons line up with God’s Word. And we need to be willing to consider that same question my pastor asked the man in the waiting room, “What if those things are exactly the reason God does want me here?”

xo,

Teri Lynne

Has God ever called you to stay in a difficult place? What did that experience teach you?

 

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