And the LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands. So Isaac settled in Gerar.” Genesis 26:2-3,6
God told Isaac to dwell in the land. “Dwell” means that he is a resident alien. He is camped out there in ‘Promised Land Territory’ but it’s not his homeland. Not yet. The promise is right in front of him, right outside the flap of his tent but he must live amongst pagans.
Has God called you to ‘dwell’ in a place where you are the outsider? Others are clearly in the majority, and they are comfortable, but you are spiritually out of sync with the culture. All you want to do is pack up and move on. It could be a city where you live, a church that you attend, a job where you work, or even a difficult family situation that appears to be stuck in dysfunction. You spend your idle time planning your exit, dreaming of it, in fact. For Isaac, it was Egypt. God said, “Don’t leave! Dwell!”
My family and I have spent time in a few such places. We lived amongst some who treated us like enemy (over spiritual issues) and acted out with aggression. We experienced great loss, were extremely vulnerable, and each time we voiced the name of the town where we lived, it was sour on our tongue. We begged for God to move us.
But He didn’t. His Word to me one morning in prayer came from the Psalms. “Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” There’s that ‘dwell’ word again. Our family was to sanctify our home, be faithful to God, and make that little corner a place where God’s glory fell and stayed. How much we learned about loving and praying for our enemies, about persevering in a place where you didn’t belong.
God moved us a few years later. The three years did seem like an eternity, but I do have the gift of hindsight that recognizes the treasures in the darkness. Our faith grew, our spiritual muscles toned, our ability to endure hardship increased, and never did we feel closer to Jesus than when we needed Him so badly.
There were times you said, “Go!” That was hard but it was not as difficult as the day I heard you say, “Stay and dwell.” I looked to escape but You invited me to learn to live in You for my joy. I’m so glad I did. Amen