What do you do when you live where you don’t want to live?
Let’s frame this question with a story; the story of a Jewish people taken captive thousands of years ago.
In the sixth century B.C., the kingdom of Judah was overthrown by the Babylonian Empire. These Jewish citizens were exiled to the city of Babylon, a place foreign in language, customs, and religion. This was the last city in which the Hebrews would ever hope to live.
The story describes how God sent a prophet named Jeremiah with an odd message. You’d think it would be a message laced with promises of liberation, but instead, it was a word of concession.
“Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! 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.” -Jeremiah 29:5-7
So, I ask again, what do you do when you live where you don’t want to live?
There is a reason you live in your city. You may live in suburbia yet prefer urbania. You may choose to tolerate its weather, its geography, its people, or its lack of culture and entertainment. If that’s the case, then here are six things we can learn from Jeremiah’s message.
- Build. Whenever I go and visit my mother, she says, “Take off your shoes, stay for a while.” To buy or build a home means you are planning to stay. It represents a commitment to the city and an investment in its future.
- Plant. The hard work required to plant a garden indicates an appreciation for laying down roots and planning for the long-term. You may have eyes for another city, but while you’re here, enjoy the fruit of your labor.
- Marry. You don’t start a life-long relationship unless you decide its time to settle down. The importance of marriage and family is paramount. To change a country, you must change it’s cities. To change cities, you must change its communities. To change communities, you must change families.
- Multiply. When you decide to start a family, you are making a conscious decision to live for someone else; a life of selflessness. When you begin to have children, your care-free lifestyle is over. Some are not willing to make this sacrifice; they either delay having children, or they have children but fail to be parents.
- Work. Work is not always easy. Anything worth-while will cost you time and effort. However, after the “planting and harvesting” seasons, you are able to reap the fruit of your labor. The great thing about work though, is that you are not the only one who benefits. When people work, it affects families, communities, cities, states, and nations.
- Pray. You may not like where you live, but understand this, when your city is blessed, you are blessed. So, pray for it.
You have been called to your city. Your future may take you to another city, but until then, live in it, love it, and pray for it.
This post was first published on UrbaSmyth.
Photo: Union Station by Ed McGowan