Some months back, in a conversation with fellow believers I heard these words, “Voluntary Displacement.” In looking at the word displacement, I saw its definition as, “The act of displacing oneself from something, or someone”. I am sure we can all look back over our lives and recall instances of displacement. While many of these may have been positive and simple, sometimes these displacements involves moving from a place of comfort, or ease to a place of service and hardship.
Immediately I thought of our nation’s military members. Today with an all-volunteer military, young men and women decide to displace themselves from family, friends, and more important momma’s cooking, to serve in the defense of our nation. I also thought of doctors and nurses that go to foreign countries to help in times of need. Here recently during the Covid outbreak, many medical professionals removed themselves from their homes to serve their communities. In both examples, some gave of themselves to the end of their own lives.
Since that day, I began to mull those words over in my head, and as I did, I became alert and observant to everyday situations in which we voluntary displace ourselves. Over the past several weeks, my curiosity reached an apex. I gave attention to everyday examples seen in the news, and my own daily interpersonal encounters. I also looked to the past for examples.
History is full of acts of voluntarily displacement. Some was done in honor, some in dishonor. There is displacement that is voluntary but is self-serving, or to the detriment of others. The act of voluntary displacement that is honorable, has elements to it that separate it from other forms of displacement. The first is obvious, it is voluntary. No one is compelling or coercing you into it. Next is, you do it sacrificially. It will cost you something. It could be time, money, or leaving something that you had been doing. Then, it is done for the benefit of others.
It is not my intent to focus on the negatives, this article would quickly become a book. I want to give some that have had positive influence on me.
In a world that was breaking bad fast, we have Enoch, he chose to live in such close fellowship with God, that God just brought him home. Noah, the only one in a world full of heathens, obeyed the LORD and received a yearlong cruise, along with a lot of on-the-job training in zoology. Abraham left his country and relatives and was given title deed to the promise land, an extremely large family that equaled the stars in the sky, and the promise that one of those stars would be the Messiah.
Moses left the quiet life on the farm to go to the big city where he got work as a cosplay actor for the One that would come after him. Joshua separated himself from his whiny baby brethren to serve the LORD through his serving Moses. This earned him the rank of General of the Israeli Army, and the privilege of leading Israel into the promised land.
Elisha, one of my favorite Old Covenant servants, was in the middle of plowing his field when he received God’s call. He displaced himself with such commitment that he slaughtered his oxen, built a fire with plow, and threw a BBQ for the town, then left. Later he received a double mantel because of his faithfulness to Elijah.
I could go on and on but want to jump to examples in the New Covenant. In the gospels we are given the greatest voluntary displacement ever. The Son left the Father! He left heaven, He left the glory, left his mighty weight and power to come to a sin cursed world to save you and me. With this He trumped and reconciled us from the effects of Adam’s treasonous voluntary displacement. Then before He returned to the Father, He called these and us to “Take up our cross”, displace ourselves and follow Him.
Peter and Andrew had a lucrative fishing business but left it with a simple invitation to a purpose. James and John were fisherman as well, they hauled out after Jesus leaving their daddy to finish fixing the nets. Matthew left a cushy job in the city, “working for the man every night and day” …sorry got carried away. Dr. Luke gave up his practice, long before there were doctors without borders. Stephen, a table waiter by trade, gave that up to witness to the people who would stone him to death. Philip, Paul, Timothy, Apollos and James willingly accepted displacement into one of ministry gifts that the Lord gave.
And since these, countless others have obediently given of themselves. Mother Theresa, Billy Graham, and the list is ever being added to. In looking at their lives, I thought on what it was that enabled and strengthened them to that level of commitment. I firmly believe that it was then and is for us today, to stay connected to the vine. (John 15) To always depend on the Holy Spirit. (John 16, Acts 1:8) But then on our part, to be intentional or purposeful in our calling.
Once again, I looked at displacement as it relates to a ship floating in water. Without getting to deep into this principle, the air inside the hull is less dense than the water outside. When we keep ourselves free of many things (being dense), and obey what the Lord has told us to do, our focus (density) is light and easy. Be like these that relentlessly lived to make a difference in this world as Christ’s ambassadors.
Not all are called to a worldwide ministry, or stand behind a pulpit of a church. I have lost track of the number of times I’ve heard someone cry for a greater manifestation of God in their lives, all the while failing to see that it right there next to them. It is in the act of loving and helping others. To win the lost, comfort the hurting, encouraging your brothers and sisters, and meeting their needs as you are able, is a manifestation of God through you. In heaven we will not hear Moses talk of his frustrations in the wilderness, or Job complain about his boils, or Paul’s thorn. We will most likely hear about how exhilarating it was to displace themselves and be used by God.