In 2012 the popular band Mumford and Sons released a song called “Hopeless Wanderer.” The hit song ends with this refrain, “I will learn to love the skies I’m under.” Take it from a guy who’s lived a lot of places, there’s wisdom in that refrain.
“I will learn to love the skies I’m under.” This sentiment has been rolling through my head ever since my family moved to Odessa four years ago. Our family has lived in five different cities in three different states. We’ve lived in cities of 4,000, 40,000, 100,000, 250,000, and over a million people. For all the skies we’ve been under, we’ve experienced something new in Odessa. We’ve never lived in a city where so many people who lived in that city wished they didn’t.
Part of me gets it. Odessa is an oilfield community with plenty of homesick transplants. I’ve heard the complaints … the landscape doesn’t suit everyone, real estate is ridiculously expensive, our schools struggle with a number of issues, too many people drive angry, we have an absurd littering problem, and there’s nothing to do here.
To be clear, if you don’t like Odessa, I’m fine with that. If you can’t wait to get out of town, my feelings aren’t hurt. You don’t have to like Odessa for me to like you. I know Odessa isn’t perfect, and I understand the frustration of many who feel “stuck” here.
However, I am a follower of Jesus. That means I don’t have the option of despising the place God has placed me. I don’t have the option of whining and complaining about the place God has placed me. If you claim to follow Jesus, consider the following Bible verses:
- Deuteronomy 6:4-7 … God was about to send his people into the Promised Land, and his primary concern was not family friendly attractions. God’s primary concern was that parents teach their children the truth about God and his Word. You can do that in Odessa.
- Jeremiah 29:7 … God had just sent Jeremiah out of the Promised Land and into exile. Still, God commanded the prophet to seek the welfare of the city where he had been sent. You may feel like you’re in exile here, but you are called to seek the good of this city.
- Matthew 5:13-16 … Jesus told his followers they should think of themselves as “salt” and “light.” This is a call to preserve a decaying world and give light to a dark world. If you feel like Odessa is hell on earth, God probably has you here to be salt and light.
- Acts 17:26 … The apostle Paul claimed that God determines where and when all people would live. The fact that you live in Odessa in 2017 is no surprise to God. In fact, it’s part of his plan. Christians who constantly grumble about this city are grumbling against God.
If you are a follower of Jesus, I hope you’ll think before you complain about Odessa. I also hope you’ll heed the wisdom of Mumford and Sons. Learn to love the skies you’re under. You may not have noticed, but those skies have some of the best sunrises and sunsets you’ll ever see.