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Love Locally

06 Feb

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My Wife and I recently just moved cities (within the last six months). We went from Southern California to the great city of Portland, OR. Now I know that many people are probably thinking too themselves why would you make such a move, but let me dispel any thoughts you might have about how bad Portland is. We love the area. The air is clean, the trees are green and the season actually change. This however is not the main reason we have moved. You see I grew up in the area of Portland. I spent my early days as a believer at the church of on of my favorite people/teachers ever. I went to youth group with a couple of guys who would become friends for life with me. It was my pastor who had even suggested going to the college I went to. So when I first attend school I never imagined staying in Southern California.

Funny enough we never actually imagine a lot of what God has in store for us. It makes me think of Proverbs 16:9 “A person plans his course, but the LORD directs his steps.” I had my life planned out since I can remember. Even as my plans changed I still made sure I knew what my life was going to turn out like. Luckily for me I serve a Great God who knows so much better than I do. So instead of just going to college and moving back to Portland, God had so much more in store for me. He knew the work that needed to be done in my heart and soul and went to work doing it.

In college I met my beautiful wife and my two best friends. One friend through school and another through the local church I was attending. I never considered what God might be doing when he established around me people who not only balanced me out but were so like-minded in somethings that they are closer to me than my own family. God gave me a best friend who stood by my side even after my life fell to shambles and another to encourage me when times were beginning to look up. Both of them are invaluable to me and I see as brothers more than friends.

As my wife and I planned out our life together we knew that eventually we wanted to end up in Portland. It is the least religious city in America according to a study done recently and published in the Huffington post (Click here for article). Between this, our felt calling, and the environment we had originally planned on moving with a five-year transition date. This was a little over a year ago. What happened to that five years I will never know, God had something else planned for us. I knew at this point that I wanted to be a high school history teacher in a public inner city school. I knew that my current job wasn’t really going anywhere fast. So we started to pray about our move, we had this feeling that our lives were just in a holding pattern because we had no real goal for us living in Southern California.

So we began to talk about wanting to plant roots in a community before having kids. We wanted to be established with a local church that would allow us to serve faithfully and raise any kids we might have in a great environment. We looked to Portland. As we continued to pray and seek counsel about our move it was becoming clear that we should do so sooner than later. So in september we took the leap of faith and moved 1000 miles away from our church and friends. The adventure was on. We started attending my old church and trying to work out our lives so that we could begin to plant roots.

In all of our pre-planning stages and our planning for life in Portland we never considered something that we now realize. In all of our efforts to make sure we could plant roots up here, it never crossed our mind that we had already planted roots down there. We haven’t had the easiest beginning years of marriage. Without going into detail we both had sin issues to work through. When they came to a head our local church in southern California was there for us. They worked hard to help us learn how to live a life pleasing to God. They stood by us when things got messy. Helped when things began to repair. Without our pastors and friends from that church we would not have made it to where we are. This grew up in us a love for that church like no other.

We love our church down there so much that we haven’t been able to find a correct fit for us yet. If there is ever a church and people who know how to spread the love of Christ it is Church of the Canyons. The people there are more real in their relationships with each other than anywhere else I have seen. They get the gospel. They understand that without Jesus Christ we all will be left to our own devices and so they strive to help others see our sweet savior more clearly. The leadership there is truly a blessing to anyone who walks in through the doors. This was root planting at its best. We just didn’t know it.

We didn’t realize that our makeshift family with friends for the holidays was root planting. Our recover and reconciliation of our marriage before a church that pour out its love for us was root planting. We had planted deep roots into a community that held us just as tight as Jesus does because that’s who they mimic.

Now we have been uprooted by our own choice and I remember that ultimately the Lord is in control. We have doubled our efforts at root planting up here and have found a church to visit that reminds us of home. Not in the music or service but in the love they have for others. So it is here that I issue my challenge: Let us love locally and realize the blessing that we have. Let us as a people realize that our local church is the gift given to the each believer by God for a specific purpose that both might serve the other. Let us not forget those places we call home here on earth but let us also realize that our Home is in a land yet to come where we will all be together. See for the Christian there is never a true goodbye from our fellow siblings in Christ, just a see you later. So let us love locally and…

Let us be genuine.

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