Two years ago I helped plant a church in Boston with 25 Californians who moved out for the occasion (I moved from Upstate NY). Many of those Californians became close friends, and by virtue of being friends with someone you hear their stories, which all had the backdrop of Southern California. This past weekend I had the chance to visit Southern California for the first time, to attend the bridal shower of one of those close California friends. I got to see the places where she grew up, the places I had only heard about in stories. I got to meet her friends and family, whom I had only heard about in stories. I got to go to Reality LA, the sister church of Reality Boston, where close friends who now live in Boston had attended. I ran into an old friend who moved out to Boston for the church plant and moved back. The pastor who preached is the brother of another close friend in Boston from California. I met someone new who knows my Boston friends. I could place the stories of my friends who served at Reality LA in that setting now. One person was asking about my pastor, because she knows him from when he lived there. I went out to lunch at a place many of my Boston friends knew and have gone to. I drove through the old neighborhood of a Boston friend. That was just the LA area – I have other Boston friends from up the coast, and would probably have the same experience there.
I was on the plane flying into Long Beach thinking, it’s so interesting that my life has been connected to a large group of Southern Californians. How does something like that happen? Why has something like that happened? Why do I have a sister church on the West Coast now, and know so many stories that took place around there? Why do I have connections in So Cal now, friends of friends, or friends from Boston who have moved back? Usually you have friends from all over, and you get a shared collective geographical experience. But no – the vast majority of my friends have connections to So Cal. In the Lord’s Providence He saw it fit to connect me to the people and places of Southern California. Pretty interesting, curious, and cool.