The whole world had one language with a common vocabulary. 2 As people moved toward the east, they found a plain in Shinar [Babylonia] and settled there.
3 They said to one another, “Let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used bricks as stones and tar as mortar.
4 Then they said, “Let’s build a city for ourselves and a tower with its top in the sky. Let’s make a name for ourselves so that we won’t become scattered all over the face of the earth.”
5 The Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the descendants of Adam were building. 6 The Lord said, “They are one people with one language. This is only the beginning of what they will do! Now nothing they plan to do will be too difficult for them. 7 Let us go down there and mix up their language so that they won’t understand each other.”
8 So the Lord scattered them all over the face of the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 This is why it was named Babel, because there the Lord turned the language of the whole earth into babble. From that place the Lord scattered them all over the face of the earth. – Genesis 11:1-9
Our children and grandchildren are scattered all over the world. From Texas to Washington to Germany they range. We’re thankful for Skype, WhatsApp, and airplanes! These allow us to connect either virtually or at least some times in the flesh. Some we haven’t seen in person for more than 18 months. Others much more often. They are scattered mostly for reasons of their vocations. From Accounts Manager, to Naval Officer, to Student, to Satellite Communications support, their vocations have taken them far and wide.
They, in that regard, are much like us. We’ve lived in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wyoming, Utah, Arkansas and Texas. Each move brought on by our pursuit of vocation. I’m sure our parents wished we were more close by, but these are the places God sent us as we followed our calling. We’ve lived in Texas longer than anywhere else now so this is home. But we got here by God’s providential guidance.
When God scattered the people from Babylon over the face of the earth, you might think of it only as punishment. We’ve considered, however, how God brings people low so that they can find grace and mercy in him. Jesus himself said, “Those who are healthy have no need of a physician, but [only] those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). Isaiah prophesied that, “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low” (Isaiah 40:4). God scatters so that he can gather.
But there is yet another reason for scattering. And this will prove helpful for those who have been scattered. In Acts 17 Peter says that God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:26-27). And when the first major persecution of the church occurred we learn something vitally important. “But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went” (Acts 8:4).
Maybe there’s more to this scattering than just being scattered. Maybe more than just being pushed out of the nest. Maybe God is intending that people everywhere bloom where they are planted. Like seed scattered, God’s people have a message of grace and truth that takes root and grows in the hearts of those who hear and believe. Centered in Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection, it points us toward a future glory and hope in the life of the world to come.
Years ago Diane received (maybe from me?) a miniature wheelbarrow with little garden tools and tiny pots of flowers. On the side was printed, “Bloom where you are planted.” It felt a bit like a prod toward an attitude of appreciation for the opportunities to serve Jesus’ rule and reign. And while it might be a bit of a challenge, it also lifts our eyes to a greater purpose and calling than seeking our own comfort and the next big deal.
Consider it a great privilege to be part of the Mission of God wherever you may be – no matter how you might have gotten there!
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