Where you are right now might really hurt. You might be wishing for a spouse or a child. You might be wishing you were done with school, or done paying off loans, or done caring for a child or relative. You might wish you weren’t locked into car payments, house payments, boat payments, or credit card debt. You might wish life were more exciting, more rewarding, and more glorious.
I once visited a monastery and met a monk, who explained life in the monastery in this way: “God draws a circle around every one of us. It may be small or large, near or far from where we began. Our job is always the same: to love the people in that circle. My circle is right here in this monastery, and I promise you, even loving people here is a tough enough job.”
My circle, at the time I heard him speak, was also small. I was a full-time stay-at-home mom of an infant and a two year old. We had contacted numerous places to serve in Africa, and so far every door was closing definitely, except one wide open door that excited me not at all. Adam had a job opportunity at a residence hall in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, which to me at the time meant bib overalls, truck factory, and a bunch of flat dull land and people. My heard desperately wanted to leave for Africa, as it had for over five years already, and I believed I had paid my dues in the United States, Nicaragua, and China already and deserved to follow that dream to reach the African continent.
The weekend my husband accepted the job in Oshkosh I could not stop crying. Our new home was a residence hall from the 1970s with industrial blue carpet through even our kitchen, no land of our own for a garden, a streetlight glaring through our windows, and a whole lot of Caucasian neighbors.
One night on our first week in the apartment, our infant woke me up and I found myself unable to fall back asleep. I sat in our living room and poured out complaints and questions to God for the hundredth time. Why did you weigh me down with a concern for poverty and people far away if only to bring us here?
As I walked back to the bedroom, I tiny motion caught my eye from a corner of the kitchen window. I stopped to look closer, and noticed a spider. Her legs and web sparkled in the street light as she carefully wove her web, a process I realized I had never in my life stopped to watch, but which awed me more with every new strand she placed.
This watching, this recognizing of the beauty in God’s creatures, I realized, was what I needed more than I needed any certain place. I had asked to go to a land of elephants and “big things,” things unmistakably screaming messages of God’s diverse beautiful work and the reliance on him throughout His world. Instead he set me in a place with common old daddy-long-legs spiders. My job was to learn to notice that these, too, like anything he might set before me, were His.
God went on to connect me to a Sudanese family I visited weekly and tutored in English, a friend who offered to share her garden with me, and a bevy of friends, many who would later support us and pray for us when God did move us to Africa. God knew the timing of when He needed us in Africa, and He knew when we needed to be elsewhere, and looking back I see that both were equally important times.
Wherever you are, there is enough of God for where you are right now. Seek him where you are, and you will find him there, not in some distant reality you wish was your life. And wherever you are wishing you were, there is also enough of God in that place. If God chooses to leave you where you are, it is because he does not need you in some other place. He’s got it all covered in His own timing, if we’ll just trust Him enough to stop and see His ways.