I want to share a story today that is a bit of a departure from all of this cancer talk. I write today to remind you, and to remind me of three truths, so we can live in three ways:
- God is ALWAYS working out His purposes in every single place our feet take us, every single day
- He asks us to participate in His purposes in the lives of others
- When we participate, the glory is His and the joy is ours
Matthew 28: 19-20 says “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
I heard a long time ago that this small word “GO” is actually better translated as “as you are going”. Sometimes the Lord will call us to pick up and GO … to GO to an unreached people group – a mission trip, or to become a missionary, but often God’s heart for you, and for me is that we make disciples “as we are going”. Please know my heart for foreign missions – God calls and equips incredible people to do that very hard work, which I commend. What I’m speaking of today are people who are not called, at this time, to become a foreign missionary, but instead to live our their faith right where they are.
Matthew 5:16 instructs us to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Jesus calls us to be His light “as we are going”; As we are going about our day to day lives, right where He has placed us. As we are going to the workplace. As we are going to play bunco …As we are going to the grocery store. As we are going in our neighborhood. As we are going to our hair appointments.
First let me share a story where I missed it.
Justin and I sat in a waiting room before my very first appointment at MD Anderson Cancer Center. You could cut the tension in the room with a knife, mostly because of one man.
His wife was being treated there, with breast cancer. This couple did not want to be in Houston; they wanted to be home. He could not figure out the “myMDAnderson” app. The same tool which I had praised, and that had made my own life so easy, was a thorn in his side. And he let the whole waiting room know, by way of loudly filling the ear of a compassionate nurse trying to help him.
In a way, I understood his frustration. None of us every want to be there, far away from home, sitting in a waiting room of a cancer center, having cancer intersect our lives.
I felt sad for him – that his perspective was negative, instead of grateful. Personally, I was just so grateful to be sitting there at the world’s #1 cancer center. I knew he needed hope.
In those moments, after they figured it out, the heated moments gave way to just a broken man, about the age of my dad, sitting scared in a waiting room; waiting for his bride who had cancer.
So what did I do?
I talked to Justin about him. Praying quietly a grateful heart over him. Wishing a thankful, hopeful spirit.
In those moments, I sensed the Holy Spirit prompt me to ask if I could quietly pray over him. Give him hug, place a gentle hand on his forearm, and whisper prayers to the God of the universe for this broken man, as an act of love. What’s the worst that could happen?
In the end, my fear of him fussing, or embarrassing Justin, or everyone looking at me overcame what could have been a blessing to Him from God, through me.
Unfortunately, I live a lot of my life in this way — self conscious, with eyes on myself (not others), and distracted.
But today I write to remind myself and to encourage you of three truths:
~God is ALWAYS working out His purposes in every single place our feet take us, every single day
Jesus said in John 5:17 “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
~He asks us to participate in His purposes in the lives of others
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-20
~When we participate, the glory is His and the joy is ours
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.Psalm 126:2-3
I’d now like to share a time when I made a different choice – living tuned into God’s purposes, which in turn gave me a sweet gift. I share not to bring glory to myself, but God alone – as HE is the one who orchestrated this. I was just a willing instrument, along for his incredible ride.
Have you ever had a “Divine Appointment”? You know, an experience when the Lord unexpectedly intersects your life with another persons life, and you know without a doubt the Lord orchestrated the encounter.
In September of 2014, the Lord arranged a “Divine Appointment” for me to meet a beautiful young woman, Sarah Cain.
In one day, the Lord intersected the lives of two strangers, and an hour later we were praying, embracing, praising God, and saying I love you to one another. I know, that’s a little weird! I don’t make it a habit to say I love you to people I’ve only known for one hour, but this was just proof of how incredible our meeting was. Before I share this story, I want you to know this story is only about GOD – and how GREAT HE is, and how much bigger He is than we could ever imagine!
The morning started off like any regular day; I had some sweet time in prayer and in the Word before the children woke up..and after the school morning shuffle (all you school moms know exactly what I am talking about); we were headed for preschool drop-off.
As I drove, I was going through my mental checklist of all I needed to accomplish in the precious 3 hours my children were happily occupied at preschool. At the top of the list was scheduling a much needed haircut, so I desperately starting calling local salons to see if by any long shot I could get an appointment that same day, like in 90 minutes. I wasn’t having much luck, until finally, an appointment at 10:45am at a local salon, with a stylist I’d never met.
As I drove to this new salon, I missed the turn in and had to make a U Turn. Just as I was making the U Turn, I heard the Lord speak to my heart “Brooke, I’m going to use you in there today. You have an assignment”. It wasn’t an audible voice, but an undeniable whisper in the deepest parts of my heart. I’m ashamed to say my first thought was “Oh goodness, I’m going to have an atheist hair stylist and God’s going to ask me to witness to her. This is going to get very uncomfortable awkward”. I hadn’t signed up for this, I really just wanted an effortless chit chatty conversation as I got my hair cut. But as I parked I took a deep breath and said “Yes Lord, I’m here and ready to be used by you”
As I met my hairstylist, a cute blond named Sarah, and walked back to her booth, I was full of expectation. Almost immediately, God showed me exactly why I was there. Her heart spilled forth, as she shared that she was going through a very difficult season. I had those Holy Spirit goosebumps as I shared with her of how the Lord had spoken to me as I made my U-Turn, and that I was certain that God had sent me to her to tell her that He loved her, and God wanted her to be encouraged and have hope in Him. I told her that I had been there; I went through a similar season 5 years prior, and I knew right where she was. With tears in her eyes, Sarah was in awe that God loved her so much that He would send me to encourage her.
As Sarah cut my hair, our conversation naturally flowed…we continued to be awestruck together as we realized how the threads of our stories were unusually similar. She shared her testimony with me, and I shared mine. There were so many unbelievable parallels in our journeys.
It was truly a beautiful time where two daughters of God shared our hearts and love for Him. It was such a joy to share scripture that God brought to mind that had encouraged me in my difficult season. She finished my haircut (which by this point I had really forgotten about, and I just wanted to go to Starbucks and continue our conversation!). I’m sure the other salon clients were thinking “what in the world is going on over there!? They’re laughing, they’re crying, they’re praying and embracing.” This was just not normal! Those moments we shard were set apart, they were Holy, and we were two daughters in Christ rejoicing at the majesty of God!
As I checked out, I shared that I would love to walk alongside her in this difficult journey, and got her contact information. I was so excited about how God had birthed this new friendship, and I just knew the Lord had brought us together for a very special relationship. I felt led to hug her once more just before leaving, and that’s when I said it. I said, “Sarah I know this sounds strange considering that we only met an hour ago, but I love you and our hearts are united in Christ.”
Psalm 16: 11 says “in His presence there is FULLNESS of JOY”. God’s presence was so evident throughout my appointment, and both Sarah and I were overflowing with His fullness of joy.
So I returned home, and I was still overflowing with joy at how God had showed up in my day! My prayer journal still laid open from my morning time with Jesus. I could hardly believe my eyes when I read the closing prayer that I had written in my journal that morning. I had prayed a portion of a prayer from the “Valley of Vision”. The prayer read: “May my desires be enlarged and my hopes emboldened, that I may honor You by my entire dependency and the greatness of my expectation.” WOW. God answered that prayer beyond what I could have asked or imagined.
God is always moving..the power of the Gospel STILL continues to change lives. And by His grace, He chooses us, broken and imperfect vessels, to play a part in His great redemption story in the lives of others. This just gets me so fired up! Don’t YOU want to participate in the work that God is doing in the lives of others?
Let’s regain a sense of urgency and expectation of how God wants to use us! Let us together get a BIG vision for what God wants to do in our lives. “Let’s not be ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
How then, do we live this “as you are going” life? I don’t want to miss it; I want the Lord to squeeze out every bit of goodness from my life. Here are three ways we can live this “as you are going” life.
- Start our day, dedicating it to God, asking Him to order our steps
- When the Lord takes us somewhere new throughout the day, ask Him, “Lord, what do you want to do in this place” Warning – you could find yourselves praying over a waiter, encouraging a sales clerk, or telling your stylist you love them after one hour
- Live a life poured for others (present not distracted; confident not self concious; and eyes on otherss, not on self)
The glory is His, the joy is ours….and sometimes He gives us one of the sweetest gifts along the way, just as a way to say “well done” this side of Heaven.
My gift – this precious friendship, which has only grown in the last two years.