Come, Stay, Go

There is a pattern of come, stay, and then go. We all experience the need to come as well as go, but we also recognized there are times to stay. For each of these phases we could be called, asked, or invited. The decision to enter each phase can be conscious or instinctive. We can split the legs of our journey into stages: before, while, and after; or reworded come, stay, and go.

Seasons come, stay, then go on an annual rotation, this is the passing of time. This progression is a sign that we are not stuck. We are strong enough to keep going, even after a cold dark winter season. It reminds me of the 1969 Bobbie Gentry song “Seasons Come, Seasons Go.” The song talks about how seasons come and go, but the protagonist’s love for her partner remains constant. Through spring and its dogwood blossoms and new green grass; summer and its rainstorm and plowed fields; through fall and the trail of grain; and in winter through diamond like ice.

People come into our lives, stay awhile, and then go – most often leaving us a better person. They could have come based on a need we have expressed. They stay for support or assistance. Then when our need has been met, their work is done, they move on. They also come because it is our turn to share, to support or assist; to meet their needs; and then we go, but we leave them better than we found them.

Improvements come from new ways of thinking. Ideas get formed, then debated or reflected upon, then transformed into action items. This process is in essence, Critical thinking. The ability to approach a problem objectively, gather and analyze information, then draw a rational conclusion. When I worked for a tech startup, we spent a great deal of time mapping out our customers’ journey. We needed to understand what makes a consumer with an unmet need come, what is required to keep that customer, and what leads to the fateful encounter of churn.

As I think about this pattern, I cannot help but reflect on the basic training we did with our dog, Rooney, to learn proper manners and obedience. It focused on come, stay (sit, down), and go (fetch, lie down, to bed). I am also drawn to the 1982 song “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by a punk band called The Clash. This song dealt with the pros and cons of remaining in a romantic relationship. It is also speculated that the song is a comment on the lead singer’s position in the band, pre-empting his leaving in 1983.

The words “come” and “go” appear in the Bible each over 1500 times while the word “stay” is used a little over 300 times. God has a strong record of telling people to go. The first account of God speaking the word go is in Genesis 7 when He told Noah to go into the ark. God told Abram to go to the land He would show him. God told Moses to go and bring the Israelites out of Egypt.

In Isaiah (55:1), the prophet invites all to return, under the figure of a banquet; “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, buy grain, and eat; Come, buy grain without money, wine and milk without cost!” In Exodus Chapter 24, God asks Moses to come to Him on the mountain and stay to receive the commandments.

Jesus spoke the words come, stay, and go often. Jesus’ first words to His apostles were, “Come,” and His final message was, “Go.” In between, He sometimes asked them to stay. In John 1, when two curious disciples of John the Baptist asked Jesus where He was staying, the Lord said, “Come and see.” In Mark 10:21, Jesus tells the rich man, “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

In Mark’s telling of the Healing of the Gerasene Demoniac, (5:18-20), we read where after healing the man, Jesus did not accept the man’s request to remain with Him as a disciple. Instead, Jesus told him to stay in Decapolis to announce to his own people what the Lord had done for him. Sometimes God’s call is to stay and be His missionary right where we are. In John 15, Jesus answers The Clash’s question. It is not an either/or scenario. We must remain with Jesus as we go. In other words, we must go and be Jesus’ disciples, but we must always also stay in fellowship with Him.

The Mass is a microcosm of Jesus ministry. We come to be formed, we stay to celebrate the banquet and commemorate the sacrifice, then we leave transformed. Go, the Mass has ended, we are sent out under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to carry out the call we have received.

In the final words of scripture, we circle back to being asked to “come.” Revelation 22:17 says, “the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes, take the free gift of the water of life.”

The apostles were just regular guys. What made them extraordinary was their willingness to come, stay, and go when asked by Jesus. We can do the same thing and we are called to do nothing less.

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