Yesterday I was driving around and around the city. Driving to a meeting, to stop by our church, to the office, to pick up the kids, around and around. It was a spectacular day and as I drove up and down and around the city, the volcanoes ringing San Salvador could clearly be seen. Tall and green and so beautiful that they broke my heart.
My heart broke at the beauty and the majesty of the volcanoes and hills that surround a city that I have come to love because the people I love are struggling on those beautiful slopes. That is the great paradox of our call. We are called to admire and love and yearn for those we serve, but our heart can be broken in the process.
As I drove through the city streets, Jeremiah 29:7 stepped into my mind:
“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
These words were written long ago to God’s people far from home. We may have willingly embraced the call to fling ourselves far from all that is familiar and safe, but God’s exiled people had no choice. Some days we can imagine what it feels like to be exiled strangers in a strange land.
But we are called to more than mere habitation in a city. We are called to dig deep into the places where God has called us, to work there, to make it our home, and to tie ourselves in tight to the future of those cities.
We don’t work for peace in our lands simply because that is our mission. We work for peace in our lands because that is our home. Our future becomes inseparable from that of the place we serve, and our prosperity and hope comes from a peace that we are part of creating.
Peace is not easy, and we labor for it, and we pray for it. We question if it is even possible, and we wonder if our part will even matter. We stumble through a new language, and relearn systems, and face new fears. We feel like foreigners and have days where we feel like we can’t fathom ever prospering in this place.
And then a miracle happens, a transformation of sorts. Maybe it takes many days, or maybe it is a growing realization. We wake up one day and find that we are home. Of course we still have our foreign moments, we don’t conjugate correctly, and we don’t always fit in. But we feel like we have become part of this land, and like it has become part of us. In those moments we know that God has called us here to love, and be loved. He has called us to help build, and to be built ourselves.
We are digging in deep and working for this future, and our future, and something new is happening as we find our prosperity cannot be pulled out and separated. We find that we will not have peace until there is peace here and that is something worth living for. In His goodness, He has written us right into the story and we know it is the very best place that we can be.
What about you? Do you feel like you are home in the country where you serve? What kind of process did you walk through to get to that point?