Anywhere But Here, Lord

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You’ve probably prayed a similar prayer at some point in your life. It might have been during a season of waiting that seemed endless. Or maybe you’ve prayed this during a time of suffering or discontentment. Perhaps you’ve been in the same place for a long time and you’re ready to move on. “Anywhere but here” prayers are a sign of restlessness in our souls—a restlessness that can only be calmed by trusting in our sovereign God.

I know these words have slipped from my mouth more times than I can count. My “anywhere but here” prayers often arise during times spent in a spiritual desert, when answers seem far off. This prayer rises in my heart when I find myself in a place I didn’t plan on arriving or staying. “Anywhere but here” is my plea for something new, for God’s grace upon grace, and for a refreshed perspective. But as I’ve prayed “anywhere but here” prayers, I’ve learned that most often God’s will isn’t to take me to a new place, but to teach me to have joy right where I am. “Anywhere but here” is a signal that my restless soul is tossing and turning when I simply need to find refuge in the God who never changes. Augustine said it well when he wrote, "Our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee."

In the Psalms, various writers prayed similar prayers to “anywhere but here,” but they always circled back to where they already were—rejoicing in God’s goodness in the midst of their trials, waiting, and desert. In Psalm 55, David prayed his own version of “anywhere but here” when he said: “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest” (vs. 5–8). In this particular psalm, David dreamed of sprouting wings “like a dove” and flying away, far from his troubles. In other words, he wanted to run and hide from his anguish.

I’ve wanted these same wings. I’ve even wished out loud that I could just run off to a desert island and leave all my problems behind. But here’s the truth: when we pray, God gives us those wings we long for. He takes our burdens off our shoulders and redirects our eyes from focusing on our problems to remembering His faithfulness. Prayer gives us wings—not to fly away from our troubles, but to fly over them with God’s perspective and power.

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At the end of Psalm 55, David let go of his dream of flying away from his problems by throwing them at the feet of Lord. In verse 22 he wrote, “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” The word cast means to shed, or throw away. When we pray, we cast our unfulfilled longings, our discontentment, and our unmet expectations at the feet of Jesus. Instead of praying “anywhere but here,” we start to pray, “Since I am here, sustain me because I trust in you.” Because if we cannot learn to be content here, who says we will be content there? The key is not entering a new circumstance, but gaining a new, eternal perspective on the situation we are in currently. Right here, right where you are, is where God has placed you. Your circumstances are not a mistake. Just as God did in David’s life, He will show you the joy of His salvation, even if it means staying right where you are for a season.

We will never be happy where we are if we do not learn to be happy in God. We may change locations and a certain season of life may end, but our hearts go with us. Instead of praying for an escape route, we should instead bring our burdens to the Lord, cast them off our shoulders and onto Him, and then rest in His grace. It is His sovereignty, steadfast love, and goodness that keep us going even when we want to be “anywhere but here.”

Whether it be a season of life you are in, a place you want to leave, or a trial you are walking through, remember today that God has you right where you are for a purpose, and He has not left you or forsaken you. Take on the wings of a dove by praying to Him and receiving His perspective. Because of Jesus, you can be faithful “here” before you ever get “there.” Join me in praying this today:

God, right where I am is where I am supposed to be. Thank you for being faithful and for giving me joy in the waiting, hope in the longing, and peace in the placement of my feet. Where I am is your will, and I want to be content—through your power and perspective. Be in me all that I cannot be today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Praying with wings,