By design, God has placed each of us right where He wants us. Whether a seminary student, church planting missionary or accountant, you are where you are by the design of The Lord. At times, God changes that geography intentionally (even if it feels less so). No matter where God has placed you, it is good to remember that as part of the Body of Christ, God has put each part just where He wants it (1 Corinthians 12:18).
A great perspective for us to have as Christ-followers is to thrive where God plants us. A fabulous piece of scripture to motivate us in that endeavor is found in the Old Testament in Jeremiah 29:4-7. Here is is in the NLT:
4 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem: 5 “Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. 6 Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! 7 And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.”
First, we see that God places us where we are for His own purposes (HE has exiled them to Babylon). If this truth applied to Israel in as rough of a place as Babylon then it certainly applies to you and me in our own local context and calling. Seeing where we are as part of the Sovereign will of God is a vital step to war against the enemies tactics of delay and uncertainty.
Since we are placed where we are for God’s purpose it is also vital to grasp that God commands us to plant ourselves where He has placed us. (BUILD homes and plan to STAY. PLANT gardens and EAT the produce. MARRY and have CHILDREN). We can do many things to occupy ourselves and even justify that as preparation. However, God has you where He has you for a purpose that will only be fulfilled by your active participation with His plan. The Israelites could have just pined away for a day when things would get better. They could have hoped that God would move them. Yet, God called them to settle in and let their roots grow down deep. Why? As Christ-Followers, when we are putting down roots we are taking back territory for the Kingdom.
As part of this idea of ‘planting ourselves’, God gives a Vision of Growth in spite of being a minority. (Multiply! Do not dwindle away!) The Israelites were an extreme minority in Babylon. Maybe you live in a place where you are the extreme minority as a Christ-follower or by some other metric. Don’t let this slow you down. If the Israelites had the charge to Multiply in Babylon, then we can be certain that God’s Great Commission would call us to that same spiritual concept right where He has us planted.
As application, God has a 2-part way for us to grow where He places us. He knows we have a penchant to ask the ‘How?’ questions. So did the Israelites. He patiently guides us to:
#1 – God calls us to work. (WORK for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile.). The Kingdom expansion God has in mind is ultimately not a work of might but of the Spirit. However, He calls us to put elbow grease and shoe leather into the game as an act of surrender to His plan and as an offering of worship to Him.
#2 – God calls us to pray. (PRAY to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare). You can do more than Pray, but you should never do less. This is the baseline of spiritual activity for the Christ-follower. It is the work behind the work that brings the work in line with the ways of God.
You are where you are by the design of the Father. He doesn’t do accident or coincidence. He does providence. Accepting that can put you on the path of obedience. In obedience, we will find joy in the Lord. Happy planting!