Life, Faith & Running
". . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
(Hebrews 12:1, NIV)
Reflections on IF:Equip Study, Mark 16:9-20 & Matthew 28:16-20
And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation."
What I love about today's (April 2nd) post is that Jen Hatmaker cannot hide her passion to bring this passage into the modern day context combined with her passion for the non-believer. You cannot watch this and not be moved to consider the question, where are my feet supposed to be bringing the Holy Spirit?
I wonder what holds us back from going. Is it doubt? Is it unbelief? That is what the disciples were experiencing before they were rebuked for their unbelief. In one breath Jesus admonishes (He rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen). In the next moment they were being commissioned to go (And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.). Which makes one thing clear, we don't need to have our lives, theology, and beliefs all put-together and pretty to be called to go. We are called no matter our level of belief because, as Jen points out, we aren't the disciple-makers, that is the work of the Spirit. We cannot make others grow spiritually, but we can be present in their lives so that they can see what Christ is doing in us and through us--So that they can witness love. We can bring our hope and faith into dark places and let the Holy Spirit do the work of softening hearts and turning them toward a relationship with Jesus. Our calling is to go and love, believing all the while that, “…I [Jesus] am with you always, to the end of the age.”
What troubles me about this call is that I just don’t know how to move out of the Christian-subculture and be in relationship with those who do not yet believe. I don’t think it is because I am scared or fearful of these relationships (maybe I am and I am choosing to cover it up with ignorance.), it is just that such relationships don’t exist in my day-to-day life. As a mostly SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) I struggle to be able to organically form relationships outside of the umbrella of the church steeple. My realm of influence and positions of service do not seem to bridge the gap between Christ followers and those who have yet to believe. So, what do I do with that? How do I seek out a place that is in need of the Holy Spirit using my two feet to usher in God's presence?
I think I find this especially challenging for me because “to go” has a particular image and of set experiences that go along with it. My husband and I spent seven years working in South Korea at a Christian international school. But the school’s pupils were not predominately Christian so each day we faced kids in need of seeing Christ lived-out. Thus, based on my experiences, “to go” actually means to go to a place where Jesus calls…establish a life in that place…and pour your life in to the lives of those you are living and working with—daily. (Not quite how it works as a SAHM in America.) For a portion of our time in Korea we were Dorm Parents for 36 high school students. We literally woke up each morning to faces in need of us living through the Holy Spirit to be able to meet their needs and help them through some tumultuous times—being a teenager! In that place, I did not even need to leave my home to fulfill the great commission.
And now I am here, an American with a lot of non-American experiences. I had the gift of being removed from the Christian, middle-class sub-culture for seven years of my life. But now, for reasons that confuse me and I do not fully grasp, I am here. A go-er called back “home.” And my greatest internal struggle is that in ways I am as passionate as Jen Hatmaker about knowing my neighbors names and being in relationship with people who are down the street from me and those who are outside of my Christian circles, but I just can’t seem to figure out how to make it a part of my daily life. I want to wake up to faces that need me to live out my faith and spiritually nurture them. I want to walk onto a campus and be instantly in a place in need of the Holy Spirit. And I want to do this along side my husband and other believers on fire for the mission of reaching people through the kind of ministry that happens when people live life together. The type of ministry that is built more on actions and than on words. This type of ministry wasn’t always pretty and came with many challenges, but the fruit…and the fruit of our labors was so sweet: relationships, fulfillment, purpose, growth, impact, and the blessing of being weaved into the narratives of lives that were transformed.
I have seen and known the power of living out the call to go. I have been a witness to the transformational component of living in an imperfect but missional community. And though it exhausted me at times, because it stretched most of my introvertedness out of me, I know that I know, that I know, that the call to go is not just about saving the lost. For me, it was also about my saving. In living out my calling in a place that was uncomfortable (at first) God did some necessary work on my heart and personality. My eyes were opened to the fact that God is a God of community. God is a God who calls us away from living life as an individual to a life that is inconveniently dependent on Him and others. When I realized that I actually needed others to help me feel God’s love, to do good works, and truly understand what it means to love, I was made new. My faith was changed. My perspective altered. I was saved from patterns of thinking that kept me from deeply valuing relationships (the hard ones and the enjoyable ones).
So, what does that mean for me here? How do I shift my perspective of what going and making disciples looks like to my current location? I DO NOT know. But God has proven faithful to me over and over again. Maybe, I need to stop doubting my calling to be in this place. Maybe, I need to move toward a belief that he can use who I am and what I have experienced in this new calling—believing that he loves me too much to let me remain who I am. He is still trying to renew me day-by-day, because even though I have learned a lot about him and myself, I can still learn more.
My prayer for today is that you and I could push down doubt, and pull-on the belief we need for today, and move forward trusting that if we obey the call to go, God will be faithful to provide the place to go to. And that he will bring forth fruit from our labors. That God will redeem parts of us while we strive to bring the Holy Spirit into the lives of others. My greatest plea is that we would know where to go and that we would propel each other into those places. That we would be able to come out from under the steeples so that God can be bigger in our lives and present in the lives of those God places in our paths today. And all the while holding fast to the promise, “…I [Jesus] am with you always, to the end of the age.” And letting that be enough.
image source: http://www.ifequip.com
Her family and friends know her as, Jaci. She is the wife of a pastor, a mom of four, writing and communications education instructor, a visionary and an avid runner. As a firm believer in the power and effectiveness of the body of Christ united together to live out the Great Commission, she holds fast to this verse, "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Of equal importance to her are these words, "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1).
Posts in the Run for Your Life, series: