There’s a song out right now on Christian radio stations that’s pretty popular. Right now, it seems to be on everytime I get in the car. I’ve heard people talking about the song and their interpretation of its message, and how they really feel like it’s speaking to them. That song is Jared Anderson’s “Where I Am Right Now.”
If you’re not familiar with it, take a quick listen.
On the surface, it’s a nice song about God being with us in the “storms” or difficult times in life. That’s an important message that everyone in those situations needs to be reminded of.
But there’s a line in there that makes hesitate.
I am called to be where I am right now
In the middle of a storm, but I have no doubt
You are here with me
You are here with me
And I won’t give in or second guess
I’m trusting You with every step
Father, You are here with me
Where I am right now
Certainly, as baptized children of God, He is with us wherever we are. Jesus tells us in His great commission that “I am with you always,” (Matthew 28:20) and Paul reminds us that we are “God’s temple and the Holy Spirit dwells in us” (1 Corinthians 3:16). That’s a promise that God made to us in our baptism and one that we can take to the bank! No matter where we go, we can know that God is with us.
But are you called to be where you are right now? Is that something that you can say with absolute certainty? Let’s explore that for a moment.
One way of viewing our life and its relationship to God’s will is that God has a blueprint for our life. A blueprint is a highly detailed plan with everything spelled out. In a blueprint all of the details are connected. In the blueprints for a building, the walls are dependant on the foundation being correct. The roof needs the walls to be in the right place for it to do its job. The walls need to be built with doors and windows in mind, so that they fit and go where they need to go. The details matter and they’re all specified ahead of time.
Those who view God’s will for their life as a blueprint could easily echo Jared Anderson’s lyrics. “I am called to be where I am right now,” wherever I find myself.
This view is appealing for several reasons, not the least of which is that it takes the responsibility off of me for being where I am. If I believe that wherever I am is where God put me, then what difference does it make where I go? If I get there, it must have been God’s plan or it wouldn’t have happened. Suddenly, I’m not responsible for wherever I end up. It’s all on God.
The problem is that there are lots of reasons I can end up somewhere (either a physical somewhere or a situational somewhere). Yes, God can bring me somewhere. There are lots of instances through Scripture of God bringing someone somewhere. God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and into the desert, leading them with a pillar of fire or cloud. He stopped them from journeying on at times and others He kept them moving. In Acts 16, Paul is kept from going to Asia by the Spirit of God. In our own life, God certainly can be at work to lead us by causing or guiding situations or events. But that’s not the only way we end up where we are.
We can also get somewhere because of our own sinful choices. We wrestle with sin all of our baptized life and sometimes our sinful nature gets the best of us and we end up somewhere that we shouldn’t be. Paul recognized this in his own life as he writes in Romans 7:19, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” He understood that this isn’t what God would have him to do or to be – and yet, there he is. And there we are right next to him. Are we called to be there? Clearly not. Our being there (indulging in sin, whether intentionally or not) doesn’t bring glory or honor to God. It doesn’t serve to strengthen our faith or advance the Kingdom of God. Instead, it’s more like our sinful nature has spit in the face of God and said, “This time, I’m making the call.” To say, like the song lyrics, that wherever I am is exactly where I’m “supposed to be” is simply not Biblically correct.
There’s still another way that we end up somewhere: because of sin’s effects on the world. Sin broke the world and its effects are far reaching. That brokenness is what makes it possible for harm to befall us – whether through something seemingly “natural” like cancer, or unnatural like the result of other people’s sinful choices or actions. We can be sideswiped by circumstances beyond our control. If someone runs a stoplight and hits another car, crippling the driver for life, was it God’s plan that the other driver was so severely injured? We can’t say. All we can say is that someone else’s sinful actions affected another person’s life in a permanent way. If a person develops Alzheimers, was that really where God wanted them to be?
Where I am right now may not be where I’m supposed to be because God may not be the one who put me there. But regardless of how I got where I am – whether through God’s leading, my own sinful choices or the sinful choices of someone else – there are two things we can know:
- God is with us wherever we go. He has promised to be with us always, and in our baptism, God seals that promise. It can never be broken because God cannot break His Word (Numbers 23:19). Even if we wander far away from where God would have us be, He remains with us, calling us with His Word and Spirit. Whether you are right where He would have you to be or you’re somewhere far from it, He is there with you.
- God wastes nothing. However you got to where you are (or have been), whether by your own sinful actions or not, God uses all of those things for His purposes. That doesn’t mean that if something good or valuable comes from a bad situation that God automatically planned for you to be there. It just means that God loves you too much to waste your brokenness. Instead, He’ll use it in some way for His glory.
In Genesis, Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers as an attempt to get rid of him. In chapter 50, after being accused of raping his bosses wife, wrongfully imprisoned, and many other terrible things, he sees his brothers and he tells them that what they meant for evil, God used for good (Genesis 50:20). God didn’t waste the things that Joseph endured – He used them.
So, wherever you are right now – whether it’s a “storm” or not – don’t be so quick to blame your circumstances on God or assume that it’s the best place for you to be. It may mean there’s something you did to end up there – something that may need to be humbly repented of and confessed to God to receive His grace and forgiveness. But wherever you are and however you got there, look for God to be at work to use it for His purposes.