Like most, I have asked variations of these questions in different seasons of my life. More so perhaps as I find myself in what one might call the autumn years with the frost of winter leaning in, which is a metaphorical explanation for pending retirement and the uncertainty it brings.
For me, where do we land has become a question filled with as much angst as it does anticipation. Am I looking forward to those golden years? You betcha, but the freedom to choose where that will take place comes with the sage “choose wisely” warning attached.
Life decisions tend to make most of us nervous, which is why a list of pros and cons might be part of the logical process for making a decision. Unfortunately, logic doesn’t mean it will be the best choice.
Not, if you consider the intangible.
Here’s what I mean.
Christians worry including the overarching question of God’s will, which means the question of “What job should I take?” then becomes “What job does God want me to take?” And that once logical process suddenly becomes clouded. Because our decisions are put to the test of walking by faith, and not by sight, which sounds nebulous, overly religious, and can paralyze even the most confident person—the fear of making a wrong choice overriding their ability to make any choice at all.
But what if the answer—the help we need—really is a lot simpler than we think? Maybe the Bible doesn’t specifically mention Texas over Kentucky or the other way around, but it does give guidelines and it provides examples we can apply to our lives and to the decisions we must make with confidence.
Instructions from a burning bush may sound cool, but even Moses had his doubts without having God’s word at fingertips before that experience.
Over the next few posts, I’ll be addressing one of these questions, and looking to scripture for advice. I invite you to follow along.
Question 1: Does God care about where we live?
NASB Acts 17:26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, (bolding mine)
The next verse states why God is very intentional about when and where we live. But the point is he sets boundaries. But let’s look at few examples of people from the Bible to see how boundaries might have applied.
God put Adam in a garden and told him to cultivate it. (Genesis 2:15) After Adam rebelled, God sent him out of the garden. (Gen. 3:24)
To Noah and his sons, God told them to be fruitful and fill the earth. (Gen. 9:7) The boundaries were wide open. Noah and his sons multiplied, but they didn’t spread out. Instead we read their descendants migrated together then decided to build a tower. But God intervened to disperse them. (Gen. 11)
God told Abraham to leave his land, and his kin, to move to a specific place. (Gen. 12) A place God intended to give to Abraham and his descendants.
God let Joseph, Jacob’s son, be carried off to Egypt (Gen. 45:7), and after the rest of the family settled there, they grew into a nation that got enslaved and had to be freed and brought back to the place God promised Abraham hundreds of years before. (Exodus 1-3)
Even Jesus was born in Bethlehem according to scripture, was taken to Egypt, but grew up in Nazareth to fulfill scriptures concerning him. (Matt. 2)
In all these examples, a place of habitation wasn’t only a concern of God, but he was often very specific about the borders of their habitation. I take all that to mean God does care about where we live. Which spurs another question.
If God set boundaries, it is wrong to move somewhere other than where we are born, or where we are living when we become a Christian?
Let’s look at Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, and what God said to him when fleeing an angry brother.
“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to the land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Gen. 28:15 ESV) (bolding mine)
The transliteration of that word wherever is kol, which is the same word for all, whole, any, each, every, anything and everything. A promise that goes beyond border restrictions.
Jacob goes with his parents blessing, but wasn’t the journey prompted by actions of deceit? Yes. Yet God promised to stay with him wherein Jacob pledged to serve Him. When he does eventually return to Canaan, he is wealthy. God kept him and brought him back.
Joseph left unwilling--sold down the river, so to speak, by jealous brothers, but which God intended for good. (Joseph’s words not mine).
Both individuals served God. One may have had a cleaner record than the other, but God stayed with and blessed both.
ESV Psalm 121:8 The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
If we claim to be a Christian, then we should pray and ask God to guide us in every decision. Then we can know God promises to be with us, and can prevent us from making a mistake. Even so, if we do make a mistake, He is sovereign and able to bring good. (Romans 8:28)
Let’s take a final look at Isaac.
(Gen. 26) There was famine so Isaac went to Gerar. God appeared to Isaac and told him not to go down into Egypt. God reiterated the promise to be with him and bless him, but to stay in the land. Three times Isaac had to dig wells because building one caused a dispute with the people dwelling near him. When he dug one the third time, and it didn’t cause a quarrel, Isaac named it Rehoboth—called that for the LORD making room for them to be fruitful.
Here's something to think about. God told Isaac to stay and he did, but it wasn’t a smooth road. Even so, Isaac didn’t give up, didn’t pull up the tent stacks and forget staying where God called him to stay because he encountered some trouble. Instead, he adjusted his position—three times. I wonder if he believed those adjustments weren’t just because there were problems, but that he needed to adjust where he landed so God could really pour the blessings on.
Weighing the pros and cons isn’t bad, as long as you pray for guidance. And make room for adjustments. But make sure the direction you’re headed isn’t contrary to God’s word. Finally, trust that He will be with you—wherever you go.