"Where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come, and you will see." (John 1:38-39)
The wording of this question caught my attention in a way it hasn’t in the past. They were not asking where he was “going” but where he was “staying.” In the story, that makes sense—they wanted to talk to him, and knowing where he was lodging for the day was a good way to be able to talk to him longer.
In a more abstract sense, however, it isn’t a common question that I see people around me asking today. Americans, especially young adults, are very transient. Growing up, I was always wondering what’s next and found a lot of freedom in not having too many roots. I could say yes to any opportunity that crossed my path, and moreover I felt like that was a good thing to do.
While being open to new paths is important to our discipleship, there is a danger of extremes. We may be called to be detached, but we’re not called to have one foot in the door to drop everything and always keep going. Christ does stay places, and sometimes staying and committing is harder than saying yes to new and shiny prospects.
A huge part of my own spiritual maturing started when I realized that I was mistaking compulsions for “promptings” from God. I began to see that I was saying yes to things for various reasons. Either I didn’t want to disappoint others, or I wanted to feel valued, or I just didn’t want to allow boredom to seep in. None of these reasons were conscious, but they were driving me to constantly go. At that time, rest was “laziness” or “disobedience” and saying no was “selfish.”
God asks us to stay just as much as he asks us to step out in trust and go. Assuming that it is always one or the other just shows that we are more comfortable in the certainty of black and white thinking than we are in actually listening to what the Lord is saying.
All this to say, there are seasons or places in our lives where Christ only wants us to stay where he is staying. And it is just as important to ask him where those places are as it is to ask where we are being sent.