"Time is the new place."
I said that in a meeting once. Mostly I said it because it's true. We all have very limited amounts of time with easy access to vast amount of places. It makes sense to cater to people's time concerns more than their location concerns.
But even as I said the words God was speaking different words in my heart and the echo of those divine words were causing earthquakes in our life.
We had just left our church. A church we loved. A place we served and wanted to serve more. A place we felt connected and fed. A place we felt loved and nurtured.
A place that happened not to be in our place.
It was a fairly simple thirty minute drive, which, all things considered in this day and age? Is nothing.
Except is nothing really ever nothing?
We had been living in my husband's hometown for five years. A place we love. But not a place we were serving very well. We certainly weren't connecting very well.
It turns out it's true, you can't serve two masters. And as more children came and our time stretched a little thinner the Master we were called to serve had some words for us. Those words weren't, "Time is the new place."
They were far more along the lines of, "The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance!" (Psalm 16:6)
Because we are so willing to pontificate about God having sovereignty over our checkbooks, our children, and our politics. We are often willing to go there with our school choices, our ministry ups and downs, and our family issues. We will Romans 8:28 ourselves half to death declaring the good things God wants for us.
But this too, Lord?
What I'm really trying to say is this...what if where we live isn't an accident? What if the God we serve really is the God of where we serve? What if we happen to be in our neighborhood because God actually wants us to love our neighbors?
What if he wants us to sacrifice the miles it takes to carry us somewhere more comfortable. We go to church and we go to small group and we go to the company Christmas party, and y'all are we going to the world right next door at all?
Listen, I completely understand that the point of that whole "Good Samaritan" story was to explain that loving our neighbors stretches as far and as wide as the wheels on our minivan will carry us, but what if it also meant we literally love the people right in front of us?
What does that even look like?
Well for us, it meant a church change. With tears and a trail of confusion in our wake we left a place we loved to be in the place God put us.
But it could just mean this: Stay home. Look around. Love your neighbors.
How? Well, The Christmas Light Project is a good place to start.
If you've been around here long you know how deep my heart beats for this project. Last year we had people from five different states join us in changing the world one neighborhood at a time. There is simply no better time for this broken and busted world to let the light shine through.
What is it? At the heart it's an invitation to the gospel. But if that feels overwhelming, here is the actual outline:
It's a weekly advent dinner. (Or maybe a weekly advent snack, whatever you can manage)
Invite your actual, physical neighbors over for a meal once a week during December. (Although technically Advent starts on November 26th this year so get after it.)
At the end of dinner, light an advent candle, and share the candles meaning that week. I happen to have a little help for you there over at The Christmas Light Project so go grab our devotional.
Imagine what the world would look like if believers reached out to their neighbors one block at a time. One city at a time. We could light up the whole world this Christmas.
I encourage you to go over to The Christmas Light Project and sign up for emails to get the guide and some encouragement on how to really love our neighbors this Christmas. Let's light up the world, shall we?