The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in His way.
One of the more difficult lessons for me in following Jesus is learning to trust that God has me right where He wants me. Whether it is circumstantial, relational, life stage, or even geographic, I easily forget the profound and comforting truth that God knows where I am, and not only does He know, He placed me there.
Our church recently moved into a new office space. Despite the increased distance from my home, I love the new office. It is a larger and more aesthetically pleasing space. The exposed flashing is stylish and the new carpet is refreshing. I especially like our new knee-high filing cabinets. They have wheels in order to roll them around and padded tops that double as seats. They are cute (In the way R2D2 of Star Wars fame is cute).
You should come visit—perhaps when we pray together as a staff in the morning.
One of my favorite aspects about our new office is the location. Our new spot is a short walk from LACMA and a long walk from the Grove. Those who frequent TMZ (admit it!) may know that “TMZ” refers to the historic “studio zone” or “thirty-mile zone,” the area within a 30-mile radius surrounding the intersection of West Beverly Boulevard and North La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles. That intersection is just up the street. It is fun to think that our church offices are near the epicenter of influence for the entertainment industry.
And right around the corner is the Flynt Productions Building—as in Larry Flynt, creator of the (explicit content) magazine, Hustler. I don't plan to drop by their offices, but I am praying to meet one of their employees at a coffee shop or lunch spot. In light of Rankin Wilbourne's recent sermon on sex, I am more convinced now than ever how confused and lost we all are on the issue of sex. And that includes workers in the sex industry.
As a pastor who loves cities and a person who likes energetic places, it is great having our office near the Miracle Mile.
But as vogue as all that is, what excites me most is the chance to meet new neighbors. A few weeks ago on Valentine’s Day our office hosted a drop-in party for anyone in our building. Earlier that day, I overheard a couple of people in the building café talking about the invitations we had passed out. They were intrigued but a little uneasy. You can imagine their questions: “A church meets in our office building? Aren’t churches big brick buildings with stained glass and pews? Does something happen here on Sunday? I wonder what they believe? And why are they inviting us over on Valentine’s Day?”
Over the course of two hours, a hundred or so people dropped in for coffee and dessert. It was great. Most people didn’t stay long. They wanted to see what we were all about, get their sugar fix, and move on, and that’s okay. A few did linger—some obviously avoiding work. Some passed out business cards. One woman described her work in the sleep clinic upstairs. Another described her two-hour commute—each way! One or two even began to open up and tell the story of their lives.
As the party wound down, I thought about each person who came and how each person has a story—and they were here—near me. I know that should be self-evident. But I sometimes forget that when I am waiting in line for my coffee at the building café, the person in front of me seems more like an obstacle to my caffeine fix than a person with a fascinating story. But every person I met that day—or any day—has a story. They have all laughed, cried, loved, and have been afraid. Each one of them has a favorite color. They have a favorite movie. Most imperative, each of them needs Jesus at the center of his or her story. And here we all are, under the same roof, sharing a building together. At least for now, we are neighbors.
Only God knows where these relationships will go. One man has started coming to our morning prayer time. And it seems as if people are recognizing one another around the building more often. As for me, I know a few more names and I’m hoping to play basketball with one of the guys in the building who rides his bike to work with a basketball strapped on the back (Anyone who likes bikes and hoops is a friend of mine!).
But this much I do know—from God’s point of view, our neighbors (and their stories) are never an accident. God puts us next to people—at home, at work, wherever. He has given us His story and made it our story with the hope that our stories and His stories will intersect with the people around us—our neighbors. I pray you have eyes to see this: God has you right where He wants you.