Jump directly to the content
The Spiritual Discipline of Staying Put: Planting Roots in a Placeless Culture

The Spiritual Discipline of Staying Put: Planting Roots in a Placeless Culture

Instead of "moving up in the world," what if God wants us to remain in one place?

I had a neighbor growing up, Alan, who worked for the power company. He was a young guy then and didn't mind danger or odd hours, so the company put him on call for emergency repair jobs. Early one morning, Alan was called out to fix a stoplight at a busy intersection. He parked his ladder truck in the middle of the intersection, put out his caution cones, and climbed to fix the light, some 20 feet in the air. While he was working, a drunk driver raced through the intersection and clipped the back of Alan's truck. Alan flew off the top of his ladder, cut a back flip in the air, and somehow landed on his feet in the intersection. Miraculously, he wasn't hurt. But Alan had a hard time trusting ladders after that. Wanting to keep his feet on the ground, Alan found another job.

Most of us don't have an experience as jolting as Alan's, but his story may serve as a parable for our spiritual lives in a mobile culture. Even if we don't feel it now, we can remember a time when we felt young, confident, and ready to take on the world. We set out to excel and make a difference—to end poverty or fix a broken school system; to be the first college graduate in our family or the first black doctor in our town. If we were at all religious, we probably had some sense that these dreams were from God. We trusted the Lord for strength to go on when the journey seemed impossible. We were spurred on by the testimonies of those who had "made it," getting to the top of the ladder and achieving what they dreamed for so long.

Like Alan, though, we have felt the ground beneath the ladder shift from time to time. Maybe we saw it coming—a move to a new school, an internship in a new city, a long-hoped-for marriage to someone half a world away. Or maybe, like Alan, it blindsided us—a company transfer, a slouch in the economy, a sudden divorce. Whether as a result of carefully laid plans or catastrophic interruptions, few of us seem able to stay in one place anymore. Maybe we have survived the moves. (In some cases, our survival seems almost as miraculous as Alan's.) We're still alive, but our spirits are hungry. We long for connection with God and other people. We're desperate for community. We're hungry for a way to live that feels authentic and true.

1235  

Rethinking the $3,000 Missions Trip

Rethinking the $3,000 Missions Trip

When I learned that kids in my city couldn't swim, I started to rethink how much I'd invested in overseas missions.
Furniture Fit for the Kingdom

Furniture Fit for the Kingdom

For Harrison Higgins, building beautiful furniture is not simply a steady job but a sacrament unto God.
Faith in a Fallen Empire

Faith in a Fallen Empire

Detroit's list of maladies is long. But some Christians' commitment to its renewal is longer.
'Daddy, Why Do People Steal from Us?'

'Daddy, Why Do People Steal from Us?'

How I answered the question would prove crucial to addressing racial divides in our D.C. neighborhood.

Comments Are Closed

Displaying 1–1 of 1 comments

Jeffery Johnson

February 12, 2012  3:44pm

What comes to mind in correlation to God´s Word with your article is we are called to be content with food, clothes, and shelter, and to keep away from supposing that gain is somehow godliness. Moreover God´s Word tells us all to abide in the same position that we are called to, as the Lord´s servant in our office of labor wherewith we labor. Our Lord Himself tells us exactly that He is not the one at the table being served, but the one serving, which example we are called to follow. But to abide in these things we would have to first deny our own will, which by the way is also required of any that would follow the Lord.

SUPPORT THIS IS OUR CITY

Make a contribution to help support the This Is Our City project and the nonprofit ministry Christianity Today.Learn more ...

TWITTER

RT @MissionYear: A great collection of articles from @ct_city @CTmagazine http://t.co/OLmjHvUIfr

In honor of Kim Newlen, a friend of @ct_city who died Saturday, we share our story of her battle with cancer: http://t.co/S3FGKhVDuo

RT @CTmagazine: After three years, hundreds of stories, thousands of readers, our tribute to This Is Our City: http://t.co/Gz35NhAdqc @ct_c2026

The top 10 stories of @editor @KatelynBeaty picks her favorites and reflects on lessons learned in 3 years: http://t.co/BQxYdaoyD9

"As a community we have to do a better job of rescuing these young people." The newest (and last) City video: http://t.co/vZL0cRKO7H #RVA