I recently won a prize at an Exeter Chamber of Commerce Mixer. I went home with two license plate frames that said, "Exeter, California" along the top and "Small Town Charm" along the bottom. I proudly placed them on our vehicle the next day and started thinking about that catchy phrase.
I conducted an informal poll on Facebook about the best and worst things about living in a small town. Here are the results of the worst things about living in a small town:
Gossip (#1). You can't wear sweats/pajamas to Save Mart without running into someone you know. Need to hide your faults. Family name defines you for good or bad. Entitlement mind-set. Always feel like an outsider (unless you're an insider) (#2). Shallow relationships. Lack of consumer options, culture, dating options, diversity, entrepreneurial-minded people, opportunity, and resources. Starved economy because people spend their money in Visalia. Horrible internet (#3).
Anyone who has lived in a small town for any length of time knows that these things war against Small Town Charm, creating an atmosphere of Small Town Harm. The harm chokes out the charm.
In the Lord's Prayer (Mt. 6:9-13), Jesus taught the disciples not only how to pray, but HOW TO SEE the world through Kingdom eyes. After praising His Father for His holy character in verse nine, Jesus then asks for His Father's influence to come to earth in verse ten.
"Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
Jesus tells us how to pray and how to see the world from the vantage point of heaven. He says to ask for heaven to come to earth- to the places we live. If we want to see Small Town Harm ended in the towns we live in we need to see the world like Jesus and pray like Jesus. We need to ask for the Kingdom of God to overwhelm the attitudes and mind sets and actions and relationships that don't look like they would in heaven.
Pray with me to see an end of Small Town Harm.
"Father, bring Your Kingdom into the areas of our lives where shame and fear have choked out joy and peace. Teach us to use our words to encourage, speak the truth, and to bring life."
"Father, let heaven come in the places and relationships where people are left feeling rejected and left out. Teach us to turn from the pride that leads us to entitlement."
"Father, we need Your Kingdom provision in the areas around us where we are governed by lack and where we accept meager possibilities. Give us wisdom to leverage the resources we do have to produce an abundance in our areas of need."
"Father, bring the truth of heaven to bear on our identities so we can honor the heritage of our earthly families, but we can be defined by the reality of our identities as sons and daughters of the King."
"Father, may Your Kingdom come to our internet services. We can't stand download speeds of 2.6 Mbps when we know neighboring towns are easily tripling those numbers."