DEAR FRIENDS IN CHRIST,
What’s Jesus up to in your life lately?
He’s been messing with me in a number of ways:
▪ He’s been trying to get me to notice our neighborhood a lot more.
▪ He’s been challenging me to not always be in a hurry, but to linger a little longer sometimes, even in the midst of a pretty full and demanding schedule.
▪ He’s been inviting me to join Him on His mission in my everyday life.
▪ He’s been reminding me “the kingdom of God is near.”
So I’ve been hanging out lately … on the bike trail and the sidewalks around our house (well, more when it was warmer), but also at Starbucks, and on Facebook. These are all part of my ‘hood.
And God’s been placing people in my path:
▪ A single mom new to the area, struggling to make ends meet and disheartened at an unexpected job loss.
▪ An outspoken atheist healing from really deep wounds from a militant Christian upbringing.
▪ An older man, a fellow pedestrian, a regular on the bike path near my house.
These people are in very different places in life and with very different needs. My prayer to God is, “Show me what they’re ready for. How can I bring grace to these people?”
The Single Mom: She just needed a listening ear on a day when frustration and disillusionment was getting the best of her. She needed a prayer partner. So I listened and we prayed ... right there in Starbucks. And she was really grateful.
The Atheist: He needed to learn through experience that not all Christians are judgmental, simple-minded, argument-seeking jerks! I’ve had sporadic contact with this guy over the course of about two years. I’ve met him in person only twice. But we’re friends online. Kendra and I met he and his wife for brunch one day shortly after their daughter was born. The product of nearly two years of interaction: he recently messaged me and said, “We’ve only met a few times, but I’ve got mad respect for you. I’m not a Christian … but if I were I’d preach like you, and I’d live like you do. I’m grateful to count you a friend.” Still decidedly not a Christian, but knowing some Christians that he respects, knowing through experience that not all Christians are jerks!
The Older Man: First of all, I needed to get to know his name! I needed to give him the time of day. I had run past him for months, knowing he was probably a neighbor, but never stopping to introduce myself. So I did. And I met Dave. And he met me, Iris and Nova (I often have an entourage and a stroller when I run!). And I still pray for him. When it thaws again, I’m confident I’ll see him again. And our conversation is to be continued.
What am I learning? God is teaching me that this all takes time. Part of me would love to tell you that all three of these individuals are now members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church and that they’ve now confessed their faith in Jesus! (The reality is that only one of these individuals even attends worship at Prince of Peace. To my knowledge, only one of them attends worship anywhere.)
He’s teaching me patience, and He’s teaching me compassion. I genuinely care about these folks regardless of where they are on their journey to Jesus. I plant the seeds, but only God makes them grow. I can’t force it! That will only end badly. I imagine some of you have your own stories, your own encounters. And others of you will soon.
During February and March, in worship and small group studies at Prince of Peace and Crosspoint, we’ll be exploring the idea of being an everyday missionary in very practical terms. There are 5 practices, which do a particularly effective job of positioning us to enjoy people and to seek, recognize, and respond to what Jesus is already doing in the lives of people we are enjoying. They are: Seeking the Kingdom, Hearing from Jesus, Talking to People, Ministering through Prayer, and Doing Good.
God’s blessings as you join Jesus on his mission in your neighborhood!