What place or location describes where you find yourself as 2021 begins?
The bottom of a well, a palace, a prison cell, the promised land, the wilderness, Eden, Nineveh, and Jerusalem—these are some of the locations mentioned in the Bible where God puts his people. Our geography, where we are physically and spiritually, presents us with unique opportunities, dangers, and challenges. Our location makes some things possible and some things impossible.
When you know where you are, you can take advantage of the opportunities God offers you there, you can prepare for the challenges, and you can be on the lookout for the dangers.
When we don’t know where we are, life can be confusing; as a friend of mine observed, “Many Christians think they’re on a cruise ship, and they can’t figure out why people are shooting at them. They’ve forgotten that the ship they’re on is a battleship, and there is an enemy who wants to destroy them.”
To live more intentionally, take five minutes to do this exercise.
- Describe and draw the characteristics of where you feel you are right now.
- Choose a metaphor that describes this place.
Since the pandemic hit, I’ve identified with Paul in prison. After years of traveling to carry out his mission, Paul was forced to stay in one place and prevented from visiting the people he loved and had poured his life into. When I get disappointed by changed plans and frustrated by the new limitations on my life, I remember what Paul did when he was in jail. Instead of giving in to frustration, depression, or anxiety, he spent his time praying for and communicating with the people and churches he loved, as well as boldly sharing the gospel with whomever he had contact.
Take five more minutes to describe and draw what comes with your metaphorical and your physical location:
- the benefits
- the challenges
- the opportunities
- the dangers
The good news about life with God is we don’t have to navigate life by our own wits and on our own power, as Paul writes in Philippians 2:13, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (NLT). The question, “Where am I?” echoes God’s first question, “Where are you?”(Genesis 3:9) This question to Adam was more about the relationship than geography. It gave him the chance to clarify his spiritual as well as his physical location.
Our geography is also wrapped up in our relationship with God. Paul writes in Colossians 3: 3, “For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God” (NLT). This means that an accurate picture of where you are includes this heavenly dimension of your geography, being in Christ who sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand (Colossians 3:1 NLT).
Look again at what you wrote and drew regarding where you are right now. Now imagine how God sees you from his vantage place in the heavens. Describe and draw it.
From outside of space and time, God saw Paul’s prayers and letters reaching around the globe and forward through history, including you reading his words today. Instead of cutting Paul off from impacting the world, Paul’s time in prison let him finish his ministry on a high note. It gave him a platform from which he witnessed the Jewish leadership, kings, and the whole palace guard. It was a writer in the residency program that let him write Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. It was a mentoring program in which he welcomed anyone who visited him and ended up infusing the Christians in Rome with confidence and boldness (Philippians 1:14). And when it ended, he got his heart’s desire: to go and be with Christ (Philippians 1:23). This reminds me that my time “in prison” is also limited, so I need to take full advantage of the opportunities God is giving me here and now.
What about you? What is your metaphor for where you are? What unique opportunities God is offering you there? What can you do to take advantage of them?
Let us know in the comments. We look forward to hearing what God does in and through you this year.