I’m curious: ever played that game where you want an answer to something, so you open the Bible to a random spot and let your eyes fall on a verse and hope the verse will solve your dilemma? Or did you, at least, ever think about doing it? Be honest.
I’ll go first: yep, I have.
My friend calls this “Bible roulette.” As in, Russian. Not the casino game.
It doesn’t always work, more often than not you seem to fire the blanks with something like “So-and-son begat So-and-so, who begat So-and-so…” But sometimes, you end up with the one round staring you in the face. “Pow!” and life as you knew it is over.
In my mind, cities are not just groups of buildings; they sort of have their own personalities. People talk about their countries as a “She”, their motherland. Cities, I think, are the same way. There are cities I have loved.
And Houston, she ain’t been one of ‘em. I’ve been here nearly half my life now, and spent the majority of that time not living in Houston but merely being located in Houston. Sneaking back along the supply lines instead of shoring up the trenches, so to speak.
On one of the many occasions I was trying to retreat from Houston instead of digging in, I played Bible roulette, and got the loaded chamber.
I ended up in a face-off with Jeremiah, which, if you’re trying to make excuses for anything and get away with it, isn’t the place to be. And the seventh verse of the twenty-ninth chapter has quite a kick.
Are you ready for this?
“Promote the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you, pray for it to the Lord, for on its welfare depends your own.”
Where you’re born, or where you’re comfortable for that matter, doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the place God wants to lead you to bring you to sanctity. For example, Saint Anthony of Padua wasn’t actually from Padua – he was from Lisbon. Saint Therese of Lisieux wasn’t really from Lisieux, she was from Alencon. Blessed Theresa of Calcutta wasn’t from Calcutta – she wasn’t even from India. She was Albanian, and her life as a nun started off in Ireland, of all places, before she came to Calcutta.
As G.K. Chesterton would say, “The patriot knows, as any mother knows, that you must love a thing to make it loveable.” I’m called to love Houston, to act on that love, to promote its true welfare, to pray fervently for it to the Lord.
And, I think, so are you, wherever you are. Wherever it is, be there. Set your hands to work in your earthly place of exile, and fix your eyes on a heavenly destination.
Because, in reality, in this life, we’re all exiles.