Well, for the past week we've had a rather unusual guest at our residence. It's such a strange story how this all panned out anyway that there's no way it's coincidence. It's no secret our church is small. We may even have a few problems (we are human, after all!) that keep us from growing at a rate that would be expected if a congregation truly was led by and exuded Christ from their beings. I'm not ragging on our church--I LOVE our church family and we know that God is doing big things there. I am, however, being realistic. And I think most churches are this way.
Long story shorter, in February Bro. Jeff was closing up the office at his work and a man drove up. He came in looking for a wrench. Jeff was a little peeved because he does not work at a mechanic's shop, but there are 4 or 5 others on the road this man took to get to his office. They chatted a little and Jeff found out that this man is a church assessor and teaches people to desciple as Christ told us to. Jeff knew this must have been a divine appointment as this is a guidance we need so much. He called our pastor right away and they all sat at church eating pizza and talking about corn for hours. The man ended up staying that night with Jeff and left the next morning to go home to Minnesota. Craziness factor #2: Jeff's wife and her family are from not very far away at all from where this man (Bob) calls home. Obviously they all hit it off right away!
They all decided that Bob would come back in December and assess/teach our church. They all kept in touch and as time went by, Bob said he felt the Lord was leading him here. We offered up the guest house to him and decided we'd feed him while he was here and it turned out to be the most amazing week! (I'll admit I had my doubts to begin with, but this man just oozes love and kindness from his soul) He got us started on Navigator training and assessed the church. It was so hard to be there as everyone finally openly spilled their issues with our church, but it was cathartic and by the end of the weekend we had all come together to create a vision and mission that the whole church believes in and stands behind.
So what do I love most about all this teaching? Turns out that we're not supposed to be bible thumpers, (those of you who know me understand this is not at all like me...I may go on my rants from time to time, but I don't believe the Bible is for the lost...they don't understand it.), we're just called to PRAY for them and LOVE them and then they will come to us. It boils down to something I learned by watching my sis-in-law years ago...if you have an attitude worth envying, people will wonder what you have that they don't. This is, of course, Christ! Because if He stands for us, who can stand against us?
I'm not saying we never have a bad day, but even in the bad times people who have faith that God will pull them through stand out in a crowd. You might think they are crazy, but they have a peace and calm about them that is unexplainable. I hope I have this same peace and calm in others' eyes.
So we've been thinking of ways to love on people and therefore desciple them. Last night someone descipled us and what an amazing Blessing...Bob took us to Chick-fil-A for dinner so the kids could play and we could sit and enjoy a meal together. Allan was wearing shorts and his "Iraq-been there, done that, got the t-shirt" shirt. As we were cleaning up the table and getting ready to leave, a beautiful woman with long black hair approached us. She handed Allan a gift card and said, "this is for the next time you want to take your family to dinner. Thank you for your service." I looked up at her and she added, "I'm a military wife of 15 years, through 9 deployments." So I said the only thing that could be said at that point: "thank YOU for YOUR service!"
Allan feels undeserving and of course the rest of us know better, but that woman had such a calm and resolve about her that I recognized her as a sister pretty quickly. There was a conversation that ensued as we were leaving a while later that proved that assumption true, but it was so simple. A person noticing, a person caring, a person going out of her way. I want to be that person! Maybe we won't always have money to hand someone a gift card, but we can offer our neighbors a small plate of cookies when we bake some with the kids or help mow the lawn of an elderly person in town. We can gather around a grieving family and offer words of consolation. And we can pray. Through prayer God will show us how and when we can be servant leaders so that our actions are smooth and natural rather than appearing forced out of obligation. Through prayer God will make it so that we never have to "cold-call" anyone about Christ...they will naturally gravitate toward our warmth and ask for themselves.
I know that not everyone who reads my blog believes in Christ as their savior, or even in God. Let me say to you that I love you. No matter what. I chose you to be invited to read my blog because you mean a lot to me and I feel comfortable enough to share personal things with you. You may never speak to me about Christ, and that's okay. You may never read the things I post about Him and that's okay, too. My prayer is just that you see a little bit of who He is supposed to be in me. I pray it comes across as natural and sincere, because that is how it feels to me. I love because He first loved me.
Love and miss you all!