Sometimes the bravest thing to do is stay
Because he stayed on Saturday,
he was around on Sunday to see the miracle.
I don't know why, but I follow a lot of people on Instagram who seem to travel for a living. Where they get the money or how they manage to look incredible in those high cut one piece swim-suits, I have no idea. But it seems every time I check Instagram on a Tuesday afternoon, someone I knew from college is cliff diving in Greece. Looking around my office, sitting at my (standing) desk, I wonder; Did I sell out? I mean, am I missing something here?
When we decided to move to Kansas, we were on an adventure ourselves. Romantic and nomadic, we felt like we were a part of something bigger. Unconventional, yes, maybe even a little irresponsible, but undoubtedly exciting. Four years later that adventure came to a close and our fellow adventurers scattered about. Some moved to new cities, some went home, but only a few stayed.
After all the going away parties, Caleb and I tried to dream about what to do next. Places with new culture, foods, and beautiful scenery topped our lists. Places like India, California, and Colorado; anywhere that didn't remind us of the pain of the past season. And while two incomes with no diapers to buy or school districts to worry about freed up a lot of opportunities for our next steps, we felt like we should stay near.
There were moments following our decision to move just 30 minutes up the road instead of across the country that I wondered if I "missed it". If I was playing it safe or mishearing God's call to sell everything and move overseas, that after all seems the more brave thing to do, but time and time again I felt deep in my bones:
Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is to stay.
In his book Cast of Characters, Max Lucado talks about the significance of the Saturday after Jesus was crucified. No one really talks about that Saturday, the day in-between sacrificial death and eternal life. The waiting period. John was at the cross on Friday. He saw the stone rolled in front of the tomb, and yet he stayed in town Saturday. Why? He could have left the city after Jesus died. It's not like he thought Jesus was faking it or expected the resurrection. He saw the nails go in and in his sorrow, he stayed. We don't know what he did that Saturday. Maybe he took care of Mary, maybe he spent all day crying; all we know for sure is when the sun rose that Sunday morning, John was present.
When our "Saturday" comes, when it's not quite our darkest day but we have't seen the resurrection of "Sunday" yet, how do we respond?
Do you shuffle to the next adventure without processing the last one, stuffing the pain? Or do you chose to stay? Even in the hurt and discomfort, remaining near (not perfect), determined to see what God makes out of those ashes. There is something in that for us, I think. In this day in age when it's all about bigger, better, newer, faster; there is something miraculous to witness if we just stay around long enough to see it.
That baby you've been praying for but aren't yet holding. That home you're saving for but haven't moved into. That student debt that you're chipping away at but haven't quite paid off. I'll bet there is something formative in those in between stages, even if you can't immediately see the fruit of it.
Maybe God wants to take our deepest sorrow and turn it into a symbol of life.
How profound and yet how very unromantic. Movies and media tell us that staying is boring, staying is the opposite of brave. They tell us to drown sorrows and pursue happiness at all cost, carpe diem! How unglamorous to pay a mortgage when you could be sipping cappuccino in Italy. Staying isn't always shiny, but it's oh so important. I think my generation forgets that. Statistically, most people my age don't stay in a job more than 2 years. We're an exploration generation and there is so much fun, goodness, and beauty in that. But when the glitter of a new beginning beckons me to pick up roots the Lord has told me to plant, I need to ask the simple question:
Do I need to stay?
Do I need to be present in this season and let it change me or is it time to turn the corner?
Do I need to stay in this neighborhood and love on my elderly neighbors who have lost their husbands, even though it seems more fun to live downtown where I can walk to a patisserie in the mornings before work?
Do I need to stay in this city and plant roots or is God calling me to start something new?
I am not saying everyone needs to stop traveling, get a 9-5 desk job, and settle down already. I'm not shaking my fists and saying, "Darned Millennials!" In fact, I think there is a profound difference between staying and settling. Settling is staying gone wrong. It sucks all the bravery out of pressing in. Settling knows there is something better out there but it's just too risky to pursue. I think there are seasons where we're called to start something new, and that is the brave thing to do. The fight there is to rage against the high call of comfort and to take the risk.
But if that's not your season, if you feel the tug to stay, don't feel like your missing out or being boring. I know I so often do. To be able to scroll past people's new beginnings, leggy cliff jumping Grecian explorations, and know that you're building into your long-game requires courage and often goes unnoticed.
Those days in-between tragedy and rejoicing often require a small sacrifice of staying put, but they also offer the promise of witnessing resurrection
So to all my fellow stayers out there- I'm with you. Sitting in my mortgaged home, in my neighborhood of older people with my dog that makes it impossible to take spontaneous weekend trips, I salute you. Let's keep our hands open, ears pricked for the call to go, but be confidant when our call is to stay put. I think one day when we're further into our stories, when we get to enjoy the spoils of our stability, we'll be thankful for our courage to plant.
And in the midst of this Easter celebration weekend we can look at Saturday with a new appreciation. The day in-between ashes and victory cries, while Jesus was defeating death and overcoming darkness, those that were faithful to simply stay near got to experience the elation of His triumph the next day!