The Trouble with Small Towns

I have to confess I wasn’t born in a small town, and I haven’t always lived in small towns. My graduating high school (grades 9-12) had over 2,000 kids in the building for example. But the biggest city I ever lived in was Houston, Texas with its 1.9 million people. That’s 3,372 for every square mile; to give you some perspective the whole state of South Dakota only has 900,000 people in it and I rounded up. But I did spend some time growing up in some small towns.

I’ve lived in 9 states and 4 different countries in my life and I have traveled around the globe but there is no place like America and of all the places I’ve been I’d rather live in a small town. But small towns have their problems.

The problem with small towns is that when your sick, people call and check on you. When you’re grieving neighbors try to comfort you. When your kids play outside you don’t have to worry about them getting hit by a car or kidnapped like you do in a big city. People wave at you when you drive by because they know you and usually like you. There is no traffic here, except maybe after the ball game.

The people are too polite and they give directions using human references. “Go back to the second oil road past the Schmidt farm, you know, he married one of the Arbach girls, Kaylah maybe, one of Pat’s daughters – then turn left and just go past the Goossen corn field and you’re there. Just across from where the old Hofer barn used to be.” They do that because they know each other and they remember them long after their gone.

Small towns still believe in Jesus. And they don’t have a problem with singing the national anthem even if it is a bit off key.

Oh, if inner city people had these kinds of problems then I might want to live there also. It is no wonder why I prefer small towns. Why I appreciate their problems, and wished that the whole world suffered from them too. What a better place it would be if they had our issues to struggle with.

But as much as I like a small town there is one place that is even better. A place where there is no depression, no grief, no loss or separation of loved ones. There is a place where thieves don’t break in, and where moths and rust cannot destroy. There is a place where money is not needed and crops are plentiful, and you never have to worry abut the weather. There is a place where mommies and daddies don’t fight, a place where joy abounds. There is a place where pets don’t die, and the sun never sets, a place without disease and where no one ever grows old. A place that has everything I love about small towns but so much better, a place where wolves will lay down with lambs, a place where God dwells. A place called heaven.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea… And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:1,3-4; NIV)

There is only one way you can live in this remarkable place. That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9, NIV)

Rev. L. Clay

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National Association of Evangelism

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