Tuesday, July 21, 2015

When God calls you home.

I realize that title sounds like a lead in to an obituary, but I don’t mean it metaphorically. After 24 years of living in other places, God is literally calling me home…to where I grew up, in southeastern Michigan. Being called home may not be a familiar concept to some, but I remember when moms used to call kids home for supper. That was a different time. As kids, we would be playing outside (remember “outside?”) until the streetlights came on. We used to go around the neighborhood and call for our friends in a sing-song fashion outside their houses. “Jim-my, Jim-my!” I may be sounding like an episode of Andy Griffith, but I swear to God we did this! I think we were old souls.

Fast-forward, and I haven’t kept in touch with any of those kids from Hilldale, my little street in the Detroit suburbs. I’m sure, like me, they’ve scattered to the corners of the earth and created life stories as varied as the colors of the rainbow. It’s not hard to imagine because that seems to have been the theme for the Detroit area: leaving. I remember when I was a teenager, our neighbor Shelley, a retired autoworker, had a refrigerator in his garage covered with bumper stickers. One of the stickers read, “Will the last person leaving Detroit please turn the lights off?” That was from the first exodus, back in the 60’s and 70’s. In the last ten years or so, there has been another wave of desertion and desolation—this one of almost apocalyptic proportions. Jobs have been lost, homes abandoned, buildings burned. A simple Google search will bring up pictures of Detroit that could easily pass for a post-war country. But the war there is still raging and that’s what draws me.

The metro Detroit area has not only lost economic stability, it has lost a lot of faith. In the wake of the myriad difficulties that have befallen these precious, hardy people of the north, there has been an influx of messages leading people away from the gospel of Christ. Hundreds of churches have closed their doors due to lack of funding, lack of people, or both, while mosques, Buddhist temples, and other alternate places of worship have been on the rise. While some churches have experienced growth and are seeing good results, far more have been struggling. Many of these churches are led by good people who love God and love their city, but these people are battle-scarred and weary. The harvest is ripe, but the laborers are few. 

Then comes the call.

I left the Detroit area right after high school and, after returning only briefly, thought I would forever live in other, more appealing, warmer places. And for the most part, I have. As I have endeavored to follow the call of God it has led me to some beautiful places: Florida, Tennessee, Texas—just to name a few. Having settled for the last five years on the Texas coast with the beach practically at my front door, a move back to the north was the furthest thing from my mind. But when God is calling you might as well respond because happiness and fulfillment will not be found anywhere else. The need is great and I’m just one person who senses a call from God to go and serve and help and make Christ known, but that is what I must do. I don’t know exactly what my part in rebuilding and rebirthing will look like, but I will give it all I have. Right now, I only know it’s time to go home.

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do." 
- Edward Everett Hale (often attributed to Helen Keller)