From the time I was a small child, I've always loved the life found in a large city, and although I appreciate the natural beauty of rural country, I feel more at home in the hustle and bustle of crowded freeways, people packed streets, and 50 story buildings. I find myself smiling many mornings as I watch lights go on in nearby buildings off the interstate because I don't see just the man made features of a thriving city; I see the architectural genius gifted to man by God, the thousands of different life stories all collected on one freeway at the same time each day, and the uniquely precious contribution to society of each traveling man, woman, and child. I see red taillights in front of me and I wonder where each car is headed, and do the passengers know God? I look at the yellow headlights in my rear view mirror and try to imagine what their story might be, and do they know God? I look across the freeway at the tall buildings slowly coming to life with the switch of a light in individual offices and muse over what the nature of their business is - and do they know God? What, I wonder, is going on in each of these peoples' lives that has them up and out so early? Where are they going? What do they do for a living? What brings them joy? What struggles do they face? What is their home life like, and are they happy? Are they crying in their car on the way to work? What are their longings and desires, dreams and visions? What are their strengths and weaknesses and for what purpose did God create them? The only story and purpose I really know on that crowded freeway is my own, but what if I merged my life and purpose with theirs?
A few years ago my job required a two and a half hour commute...one way. From my small corner in Orange County, I would drive up to Pacific Palisades and in the two and half hours it took me to get there, I usually filled the time with various CD teachings from Christian educators or talking on the phone, but rarely did I just sit in silence with God and pray. My lengthy path took me from I-5 to I-91, I-605, I-105, I-405 and then finally to I-10 where I made my freeway exit, but you can imagine how the interstate hopping for almost three hours grew tiring, especially knowing I had to do it all over again later in the day. I wasn't at a place in my walk with God then where I appreciated the sweet opportunity to just pray for the people who drove alongside, in front of, and behind me, but I see things differently today and don't mind the commute. I see the city lights as an indication, not of a smoggy, busy, and crowded city, but of desperate need and thriving possibility. Nature in rural country is beautiful and already boasts of the knowledge of God above, but what about the nearly four million people living in L.A.? Or other big cities across the map? Do they have knowledge of God? Each one of them was created by Him, but do they know Him? Do you know Him? How can we merge our lives and purpose with millions of other people whom we've never even met? The answer is simple - prayer. While I may never know the needs of the guy thee cars in front of me or two lanes across from me, God knows, and He will listen to every word I pray on anothers' behalf. And if my prayers are coming from a genuine place and a heart right with God? Then they are "powerful and effective" (James 5:16).
It is in that moment of power and effectiveness that I merge the story of my own life with the story of the person for whom I prayed two cars over or in the office that just lit up in the Plaza Tower, so a busy freeway and crowded city? No, I see possibility and opportunity. I see hurting people, happy people, desperate people. I see uncertain people, confused people, and abused people. I see walking, talking, testimonial potentials for Jesus Christ. I see the birth of witnesses to His power and grace. I see people just like me trying to live their life each day to the best of their ability, and I see hope. I see the magnitude of God's creativity exploding in the vibrant beauty of diversity, and I see lights. I see Christ and I see my purpose in Him revealed each day. Can I do God's work meaningfully no matter where I am? Absolutely, but while He calls some of us to serve from the remote abode of country dwellings, He leads the hearts of others to the city lights. And I do love the city lights. Let God use you wherever He leads you, whether it's to a 50 story building in the big city or the rolling hillside outside of a small town. He has a specific reason for leading you to exactly where you are today, and His reason is good and only you can do what He has put you there to do.
"If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country." - Deuteronomy 28:1-3