June 14, 2012

How to Have a Story

I want to tell you a story, a revealing story about my life and about my God.

My husband and I used to live in a house on a cul-de-sac in the heart of the Bible belt, USA. We brought three children home from the hospital to that house and, as they grew, I strolled those babies around a neighborhood full of people I hardly knew. I didn't have time to get to know them, at least that's what I told myself, seeing how busy we were at church, hanging out with students in the college ministry my husband pastored, attending Bible study, and raising our babies to know and love the Lord. If I were truly honest, being around non-church-going people made me feel uncomfortable and awkward. Instead, I taught college girls, discipled college girls who were already spiritually mature, and shared the gospel on mission trips to foreign lands and with a grand total of one girl that I knew. This was my life, and it was a good one.

But I didn't know what I was missing until I left that life.
At some point in that life in the house on the cul-de-sac in the heart of the Bible belt, I knew God was calling us to leave our comfortable, controlled climate and take a chance on Him. He was calling us to plant a church outside the Bible belt, to go into the world and make disciples. In a sense, it was easy to leave because, for one, I was ready for a change, and, two, because I really didn't know what I was getting into.

Then reality hit, and I realized so many things about my old life: very rarely had I desperately depended on God, very rarely had I allowed God to move me out of a self-constructed cocoon of comfort, very rarely had I released control of my life. It was a difficult transition from independence to dependence, and, in many ways, I'm still transitioning.

Mostly, I realized that what had been missing in my life was raw disciple making. In our old life, we lived and moved among a sea of mature Christians. I didn't have eyes to see the spiritual needs of our neighbors or our city, and I didn't have a heart that allowed God to use me as He wished.

Life looks different now. It's not all that comfortable and definitely not easy, but I love it. We are doing the work of church planting, slowly but surely sharing the gospel and spending time with people who do not know Him. I finally have eyes to see people and my city and a heart that is open to the Spirit's leading. God has proven that He offers us deep heart-level satisfaction as we follow His plan of going into the world and making disciples.

Life looks different now, but it's not like I'm the second coming of the Apostle Paul. We're not experiencing explosive growth in our church or seeing our city turn to Jesus in massive waves. I'm fearful sometimes, desiring only to hole up in my house instead of doing things that require me to depend on the Lord. I often get things wrong. But there is one thing I know: I will never go back to that old life. I could never be satisfied with that again.

I tell you this story about me and my God because I wonder if there are others who are living my old life and who aren't really satisfied. I tell you this story because our continent (not to mention the world) is full of people who do not know Jesus and full of cities where the gospel is not being shared. In my old life, I could not see this because I had not experienced it for myself. But now I have experienced it and I plead to those living my old life: Go.

Go where there aren't church plants in every school.

Go to people who are different than you, who may make you feel uncomfortable.

Go purposefully and boldly into your neighborhood or your child's school.

Go to God and give Him your yes, no matter where He takes you or what He asks of you.

If you do this, I guarantee that you will have a story too, a story about your heart transforming and your eyes opening to the world around you. Mostly, though, you will have a story about God and about the lengths He will go to pursue His children. You will have a story about His unrelenting faithfulness and the power He has to heal broken lives.

You will have a story about how God writes new stories.

As God was moving us toward church planting, one of the pivotal moments for me was hearing David Platt speak about making disciples. The talk is below. Listen and be blessed.