On the Wrong Land

What happens if you live “here” but your heart is “there?”

First of all, realize it is not an original problem.  Let’s look at a number of Scriptural illustrations to see why God would confine us to a piece of land that we do not love and are not called to.

1)     One common reason in Scripture was for protection.  You see this with David when he took his family and fled to Moab for political asylum.  Christ was taken to Egypt to save his life and then placed in Nazareth for 30 years because it was a “nowhere” kind of place where He could successfully hide.  As soon as His hidden years were over, He left Nazareth and went to Capernaum which was more propitious for His work.

In a little bit different application of the same principle, Elisha told the Shunammite woman to liquidate her holdings and leave the country for seven years since there was going to be a famine.  She could return after that and put down roots again, but if she stayed, she would lose all her capital.

2)     There are clearly timing issues.  God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham but then told  his descendants to leave for 400 years until the time was right for the transfer. If we were on the land we are called to, our passion would probably cause us to start working on it far before the timing of God.

3)     With Israel in the wilderness, they needed to learn a lot more about sonship before they were able to go possess their inheritance.  We humans tend to have an unrealistic opinion of ourselves.  Either we think we are a lot less than we really are or a lot better than we are.  In many cases, God will keep us in “school” on some other land for a long time until we really are ready to go to the land where our inheritance is.  This can be frustrating if we think we are ready for the real assignment, but God knows otherwise.

4)     Many times I think there are treasures in the land we are on, which we will need for the future.  Two examples of this are David and me.  David was all safe and sound in Moab when the prophet told him to go to the desert of Judea.

I believe that there are very significant spiritual dynamics to desert land.  David had grown up as a shepherd and presumably was quite familiar with the spiritual dynamics of verdant land.  However, to prepare his spirit for being king some day, he needed a season of receiving from the desert land to complement the treasures from his birth land.

I am in the same situation in Anaheim.  It is not a city I love, but when God brought me here to this Ruler city, He said He wanted the structure of the company to grow to equal the ideology of the company, so He is using the gift of the city to do that.

5)     One of the most common reasons for God putting us in a city other than where we are called, and where we want to be, is because we need to receive some social asset there.  In the case of Jacob, he spent 20 years in Padan Aram while his heart was in Canaan.  He went to Paddan Aram poor, alone, and alienated from his family.  He returned wealthy, with a large family, and with a brother who welcomed him back.

Sometimes God has a spouse or a teammate in the city where you don’t want to be. Sometimes it is education or a job skill.

To sum it up, another flavor of reconciliation is to accept that the land we are on has purpose even though it is not THE land we are called to.  We certainly don’t have to love the many pieces of interim land we experience, on the way to the beloved land, but we should accept that they have value and our placement there was Father-filtered.  We can embrace the purposes of God for the land even when our heart is somewhere else in the future.

Copyright June 2011 by Arthur Burk

From home

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8 Responses to On the Wrong Land

  1. Harald Olsen says:

    I went to teachers college and during the first year God called me to be a pastor. I wanted to go to another city to start that education, but my father told me: “It is wise to finish what you started. It is no rush.” I listened to him and stayed two more years in the place I didn’t want to be. The last year I met the great love om my life there. She became my wife, and she is my best friend and coworker. I would be far less effective in the Kingdom without her. So I guess I fit in under point 5 above.

  2. For me, it is to grow up in obedience to His Word. This includes being thankful for every single day and for the dirt I’m standing on, regardless of whether or not it is my choice of where to live. I thank Him for His Blessings and pray for the wisdom to understand my purpose here and for the will to act on it.

  3. Sue says:


  4. Jacq Wallace says:

    This was awesome and I can totally relate. Loved it!

  5. Debs says:

    I experienced that in the last years – living in cities, where I felt very much not in place in terms of the land and actually longed to move on. But really just KNOWING it was the right place, the right community, the right job … for this time. And looking back I received so much healing, deliverance, precious friends, mentors, growing etc. The blog remembered me of the daily blessings some days ago about seeing the goodness and beauty of God. I’m sure He loves to help us to see it, even on so-called “wrong land”. I am so encouraged to see the way He is working on our hearts, being so faithful.

  6. Wendy says:

    This is exactly why we are not in Colorado (or anywhere else with that beauty and topography for that matter) yet!
    We just have not had as good of a perspective as you have presented 🙂
    God has been gracious though, and we are now more deeply invested in learning, and blessing, than we have been in the last 9 years of living here. TJ is even on a city board giving back to the community!
    Thank you for sharing this; PERFECT timing…so refreshing and encouraging. He is soooo faithful and is so personal- serious kiss from Abba today!

  7. Rebecca Eshelman says:

    Guess you mean like yearning for heaven….while we are here…….

  8. Mary-Anne Simpson says:

    I love this, it puts such a positive flavour on something that could could have a bitter taste and reminds one that our timing is not always what we think it should be.

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