Summer is upon us, and ‘tis the season for graduating and moving again. Somewhere I read that one-third of American families move every three years or so. I do believe it. And, along with the move also comes the adjustment to a new community, new schools, new churches, new friends—and saying goodbye to the old ones.

Depression is often a part of the change. How does one cope with this kind of necessary change when our emotions are in turmoil?

A long time ago, just after we were married, Pegeen and I visited her elderly grandmother in Florida. As we were leaving after a delightful visit, she wanted to show us an unusual sight. There, growing out of the wall receptacle, was a little green vine, stretching forth toward the light! She said, “I have been living here for over 12 years, and I know there has been no daylight down underneath the floor for at least that long. Yet in the last year or so I have had to keep snipping that plant off time and again, or it would bloom!”

What a parable of life that is! How necessary and sometimes how hard to bloom where you are! In the Book of Acts we find the story of two remarkable saints, Priscilla and Aquila. Here is a couple raised in one place, Asia Minor, as home. But we find them living in Rome, then in Corinth, then in Ephesus, and then back to Rome, and back again to Ephesus. And all these moves happened in the space of 8 or 10 years—they moved every year or two! Yet they always bloomed where they were.

Blooming wherever we are is a matter of the will and faith. And I do not speak only of the problems of blooming where you are when you move from one place to another; there is the challenge of blooming in a new situation and a new environment when an illness or the reality of growing old or personal tragedy or family crisis demands changes in our lives. It can be done; like the vine struggling toward the light, we can bloom where we are.

I think of John Bunyan, the author of that Christian classic, Pilgrim’s Progress, which had a place next to the Bible in homes of faith for three centuries. Bunyan was cast into prison for preaching the gospel, and in that dark dungeon he bloomed, spending the 12 years writing Pilgrim’s Progress. You can bloom wherever you are. There is another classic on my shelves, a slim volume entitled The Practice of the Presence of God, written by Brother Lawrence, a monk who was no good at preaching, but he could serve God and bloom in the kitchen of the monastery, preparing the meals for the other men. You can bloom if you choose to put down roots wherever you are.

There are three requirements to blooming where you are, and they have to do with our will and our faith. To bloom wherever we are, we must (1) put down roots; (2) reach up to the light of God’s presence; and (3) we must have a desire to be helpful.

Sometimes when Christian families move to a new community they hang back and “church shop” until the devil gets them out of the habit of going to church. I think the devil would rather neutralize a hard-working, church-oriented Christian couple than to win over the soul of a hardened sinner anyway. Don’t make that mistake if you are new in the community. Pray, visit the churches you feel may be right for you, and then make a decision and a commitment to get involved in a church.

And, if you’re about to move to some other community, remember that you can bloom there. The Syrian General Naaman in the Old Testament was converted to the worship of Israel’s God when he was healed of leprosy. He then desired to carry a donkey load of earth from Palestine to Syria, so Israel’s God could be powerful there, too. You know better than that—the Lord God is everywhere. You can serve Him wherever you go.

So, if you have fears about moving, load your donkey—including a load of memories—and march on, knowing that with God you can bloom anywhere.

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