Seeing Yourself as Sent
by Léonce B. Crump, Jr.
The obstacle standing in the way of our lives and our communities reflecting the glory of God is transience—defined by Random House Webster’s as “1. not lasting, enduring, existing briefly; temporary.” The world we live in is one of almost limitless mobility. We can, physically and mentally, be almost anywhere in the world at any moment in time. Because of our now limitless mobility, the great majority of us have lost a sense of place that was inherent to previous generations.
There is another view though, one that takes into account the greater good and ultimately the glory of God. This is in complete contrast to transience; it is permanence or staying put. This view places value on people and the places they inhabit. This view sees worth and meaning in the perspective we take in participating in the life of a community. This view pushes us to see ourselves as sent and not simply existing.
Consider Tim and Becky
Consider my friends Tim and Becky, owners of Bearings Bike Shop. In 2008, around the same time my family and I moved to Atlanta, they moved from their suburban home into a downtown Atlanta neighborhood. Adair Park is a historic neighborhood in southwest Atlanta, one that has been left behind by the sweeping wave of gentrification. When sharing his story with me, Tim told me something that, judging by the incredible work they do there, I would have never guessed. He said, “We moved here looking for a cheap house on a wide street in the city. We had no desire to do anything but fix up our home and live our life.” But soon after moving there, they began to notice the state of their community. In their own words: “As we began renovating our house, we would watch local gangs gather and fight in the neighborhood park. It became apparent that the park was virtually unusable by families. Violence, drugs, prostitution, and crime dominated [our] neighborhood to the point where small children couldn’t play on the playground.”
Then something incredible happened. They had a sort of awakening. They felt a stirring in their hearts like nothing they had ever experienced before, and in that moment they had a choice. Would they view this place as one to now flee, because it did not offer them the life of promise and personal happiness that so many other places would, or would they determine that the issues plaguing this small community were now their issues?
The Bearings Bike Shop’s existence is living proof of the choice they made. When they realized they were not just selfishly or purposelessly existing in their neighborhood, everything changed. And though they had not grasped it when they first decided to move, what was happening had now become abundantly clear: God had sent them to Adair Park for the express purpose of being present so they could see the problems pervasive in their community, and, through seeing and experiencing them, develop a deep and rich sense of place.
Adapted from Renovate Copyright © 2016 by Léonce B. Crump, Jr. Used by permission of Multnomah Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.
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