“As they learned to live together, they developed into high-energy communities.”
— Eugene H. Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant (p. 19)
One honest moment I asked,
“God, where can I serve You and be Your star?
Where can I fly where I can be tasked?”
He said, “Quite frankly, stay where you are!”
Oh, this is an incredibly hard word for so many of us, most, if not all of us. We all aspire to rise to another level of effectiveness in this life. None of us are quite where we aspire to be — whether that be a career, vocation, family, or personal goal.
But Peterson’s point is that stability is grand in the context of restlessness — a spiritual no man’s land. He learned this from the sixth century monk, Benedict, who added a vow of stability — to stay where he was — to his vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. This fourth vow was an exceeding wisdom that helped underpin the other three.
Spiritually, we’re restless people, and when we give-in to our inner impatience we work against the purposes of God, not for them. We find reasons at light speed to move from one position, situation or circumstance to what we desire to be the next.
Restlessness is bred from discontentedness, and discontentedness is a spiritual crisis. We address discontentedness by learning to be happy right where we are — the absolute manifestation of God’s will for each of our lives. Where we presently are, is where He presently wants us to be. It doesn’t mean God wants to keep us there, but we are where we are for a pre-determined time, according to His will.
And here is the reason we’re to stay (in our hearts) where we are:
God has given us a community to function within; a place where we will be fashioned by others, according to His Spirit, as others, likewise, will be influenced by us. God cannot do His sanctifying work of character reformation in us any other way than through community.
God grows us where we neither give up on others in community nor do they give up on us. We grow best where we stay where we are.
The congregation is not only the pastor’s place for developing vocational holiness, it’s also the best place for the congregation to learn piety.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.