As if He even needed it.
I'm not sure I remember even questioning directly, yet the thoughts still lingered around the corners of my mind: Why am I here, in the South, in this city? I, who yearned and prepared for 20+ years to go to the mission field, why am I not allowed to go? What could God's purpose be in this?
When God said stay, I said yes. And I would NOT want to move or to stay outside of His will. (Remember when the Israelites tried to take Canaan after God said they couldn't for forty more years? Disastrous!) But I think on some (and various) levels, I just wondered why. Had I done/not done something that would disqualify me? Was there sin in my life, or bad habits, that God needed eradicated? Had I so misunderstood His call as to have been misdirected for so many years? (To this, I can pretty quickly say no. I don't understand the contrast between go and don't go, but neither did Abraham when God said to offer up the son of the promise.)
I cannot fully answer this question, and perhaps I may never be able to. God doesn't promise answers. He gave us the only answer we needed in Jesus Christ. However, one thing I have seen clearly--if only in bits and pieces--is that there is purpose to God's words, and when He says something like, "Stay," there is a reason, and usually many.
Here's one. The greatest joy in my life right now is working with youth in a variety of teaching and discipleship settings. I cannot believe how wide this door has swung open to me and how effective God has made me. I am truly humbled week by week to see His Spirit speak through me ('...as if speaking the very words of God.'). Yet here is what I realized recently: To the students I teach and to their parents, I can say, as Paul did, "You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance..." (2 Timothy 3:10) This is a privilege that having time in/roots here has earned me. If I hadn't lived here, been proven in ministry, having simply spent the time in fellowship with and in service to this local body, I could not say, "You know all about my way of life."
If God had no other purpose for planting me in the South for nine years--and I know for a fact that He did have other purposes--this one purpose would be worth it. For it is my life, lived before this community over time, that has opened up these opportunities to minister. Because of God requiring me to stay, I am allowed to serve at levels I could never have otherwise achieved.
His plan always brings an overflow of blessings, and this is one: That I may be a known and proven quantity so that I may serve my King. I really couldn't ask for a better explanation of His direction.
As if He was required to give one.