By: Jenni Walker
“I will make you as a light for the nations, that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6b
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’” Mark 1:17
“If there existed only one man or woman who did not love the Savior, and if that person lived among the wilds of Siberia, and if it were necessary that all the millions of believers on the face of the earth should journey there, and every one of them plead with him to come to Jesus before he could be converted, it would be well worth all the zeal, labor, and expense. If we had to preach to thousands year after year, and never rescued but one soul, that one soul would be full reward for all our labor, for a soul is of countless price.” (Charles Spurgeon)
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It was a gorgeous summer day in Minneapolis. My mom and I had taken a walk around Lake Harriet, flanked by the city sidewalks and shaded trees. Birds flew overhead, and sailboats motored lightly through the lake that I had swam in so many times as a child. On many summer evenings throughout my childhood, as dusk dimmed the sunlight, my brother, sister, dad, and I would finally emerge from the lake. My mom would help us towel off as the Minneapolis skyline gradually began to disappear.
On this summer day, I was no longer a child. I was nearly thirty years old and now resided in Oklahoma with my husband. Even though Bryan could not go with me this time due to work schedule constraints, I had decided to still head to Minnesota for a week in July to visit family and friends. After finishing our leisurely walk around my beloved Lake Harriet, my mom and I drove to a local movie theater to see the newly released “Inside Out” movie. My dad, too, drove directly from work to meet up with us and, a few minutes into the movie, slipped into a seat in the darkened theater beside me.
At the conclusion of the charming movie, my parents and I descended the theater steps down to the main lobby. I slipped away to the restroom, leaving them near the candy counter. As I emerged a minute later, I found both of my parents engaged in conversation with two of the theater employees behind the counter. I approached and was cheerfully introduced to them both. Pleasantries were exchanged, and before I knew it, my parents were asking them if they attended church anywhere. In the five minutes since the movie ended, to the time that my parents and I walked to our cars in the parking lot, those two men had been shown personal kindness, respect, Christ’s love, and been given specific information about a church they could visit. And do you know what? They appreciated it. They both enjoyed chatting with my parents and one of them even expressed that he “needed to get back to church.”
It was this kind of exchange that I heard and saw modeled by my parents consistently as a child. It was not uncommon to hear my dad tell a cashier “Jesus loves you” with a sincere smile as we were about to leave a store. He owns a painting business, and he frequently recounted stories to us of times he would witness to a painting customer in their home or tell them about Jesus’ love for them. My mom would explain to us that my dad always had “his good news shoes” on – he was, and is, always ready to share the love and truth of Christ with others. His faith is also a strong witness to unsaved family members, and his love for the Lord and for people is extremely genuine. That has always translated into his love of working with children, as well. He was a teacher at Christian schools for many years, and he and my mom met each other doing children’s ministry at church. My dad helped to write children’s church curriculum, wrote skits, put on puppet shows, and even dressed up as “Word Bird” for the kids – anything to get God’s truth and love across to those little ones! I can’t tell you how many small children at church I have seen over the years run up to my six-foot, six-inch dad, and, almost in awe, excitedly exclaim, “Hi, Mr. Chuck!”
My mom shares this common heart with my dad to teach children about a relationship with Jesus. Besides leading praise and worship, homeschooling my siblings and myself in our early school years, and assisting for years with the planning of children’s church services, I also observed my mom consistently display respect and love for every person that she interacted with. Throughout her years as a nurse, she has primarily worked as a supervisory nurse and case manager for home health care companies. In this roll, she advocates and cares for the elderly, for paraplegics and quadriplegics who are confined to a bed or a wheelchair, for individuals with special needs or developmental delays, and for many others who require home health services because they cannot care for themselves fully on their own anymore. My mom courageously and genuinely shows a deep respect, care, and love for people no matter who they are or what they look like. She taught us as children that every person is created in the image of God, that Jesus died and rose again for them, and that people tend to look “at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
One of my friends, Melanie, grew up as a missionary kid. She has a huge heart to reach others who are lost in the brokenness and pain of sin. A year ago, I remember her observing to me that she was amazed that my sister, my brother, and I all live our lives with a sense of being “on-mission” for Christ even though we have never lived on the mission field. What did my parents do to raise us this way? she wondered.
As I reflect on that question, I see over and over again how my parents both modeled for their children, and taught us directly, that our entire lives are to be lived centered around our relationship with the Lord. The way we worked, our attitude toward each other, the care with which we listened to our friends, our willingness to get out of our comfort zones, our respect for others, our responses to the brokenness and pain in the world around us, all of these things were opportunities to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We grew up with the knowledge that God not only loved us and had a plan for our lives but that we were to let our “light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) They modeled this, and they gave us opportunities to put this into practice for ourselves in ways such as packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child, filling baskets of food around the holidays at a local food bank, putting on puppet shows for children’s church services with my dad, organizing mail at a pro-life organization with my mom, going on short-term mission trips, providing financial support for children through World Vision, intentionally praying for the gospel to be spread in other countries, or even just helping us find ways to be kind to sometimes-grouchy neighbors. We observed them reaching into other people’s worlds intentionally and with a conviction that God had called them as His sons and daughters to share about God’s gift of eternal life (only through Jesus!) to those who were lost and in sin! (Luke 24:46-47)
This sounds almost idyllic, but it was not – it was just something that we as children learned to put into practice and came to a point ourselves where, out of our own personal relationship with the Lord and His work in our individual hearts, we desired to make an impact in this world for Christ! Obeying the Great Commission to “go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19) should be intentional and lived out on a daily basis; yet, it does not have to be as hard or intimidating as we can sometimes make it out to be. But as followers of Christ, we must get the focus off of ourselves. We are here on this earth not just to make the world a “better place” but to “be the light of the world” to those who are far from God! Every person is born into sin and needs to hear about the love and truth of Jesus Christ. God calls us as His children to be His ambassadors in this earth! Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
Ladies, people in this world are perishing every day without believing in Jesus and knowing His love! (John 3:16) The purpose of this post is to provide concrete, actionable ways in which we, as followers of Jesus, can live daily with an eternal perspective as we reach others with the life-changing light, love, and truth of the gospel! As we consider the following insights and ideas together, I pray that the Holy Spirit will stir each of our hearts toward action as wholehearted women of God who are compelled by our Lord’s great commission!
***1. Compelled by the Great Commission in Daily Encounters***
A. Take a step: Like the examples of my parents, it is important to just take a step. Ask God to help you become more spiritually-minded in your daily encounters with others. Whether it is at the grocery store, a coffee shop, interactions with a waitress or a neighbor, those are all opportunities to show the love of Jesus to others. Be bold, and seek the help of the Holy Spirit in these daily encounters. Before Jesus ascended into heaven after His resurrection, He said to His disciples, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witness to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Whether in word or deed, be a witness for Jesus in all that you do!
B. Walk it out: What we say, what we don’t say, how we work, our conduct, the kind of attitude we have toward those around us, all of these and more are ways in which we can let our light shine! Ladies, we are called to live differently. Colossians 3:1-3 reminds us, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on this earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Our lives are not our own anymore! Let’s set our minds on things above and be witnesses through the work of Christ in us and through the help of the Holy Spirit!
Both my husband and I have experienced recently how impactful our witness (Luke 24:48) can be to others in daily interactions. Both of us really enjoy community theater and each were both performing in local productions simultaneously last fall. In my experience, just developing relationships with people is a powerful platform to put the gospel on display for those in need of Christ! Philippians 2:14-15 tells us that when we “do all things without complaining or arguing,” that we “become blameless and pure children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Showing kindness to others, loving them with the love of Christ, being patient when the natural thing to do would be to be frustrated or impatient, not complaining, and just caring about them as people made in God’s image are all ways that people see Christ in us! Never underestimate the power of your witness to others! People will see that you are different, and even though they may not understand why, it is attractive to them. And having an authentic relationship with them also opens doors to pray in specific ways for them or even to tell them about the gospel!
Similarly, Bryan looks to walk out the Great Commission in simple yet powerful ways through community theater. Whenever he learns that a fellow thespian is a Christian, too, he will engage them in conversation to learn more about their faith and to encourage them. (He is often encouraged by them, too!) He also looks for ways to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit to help those who are hurting or are in need. He recently felt God put it on his heart to pray for one of the actors who was going through a family loss. He felt a little out of his comfort zone telling the man he would be praying for him since they had only just met, but he knew he had to be obedient to the leading of the Lord. He chose to walk it out and to make an impact on the life of a man in need of the love of Christ!
C. Practice helps: Thirdly, as we seek to obey the Great Commission in our daily encounters with others, remember that practice helps. Just like Bryan’s example of praying for someone he had just recently met, we must be willing to get out of our comfort zones. Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” Do not fear what others may think. Seek the Lord’s help in this area. He will help you to become more spiritually-minded in your daily encounters and to become more aware, more bold, more intentional, more excited about reaching others for Him as you are “being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God”! (Philippians 1:11)
***2. Compelled by the Great Commission to Get Involved***
There are SO many wonderful organizations and opportunities to get involved with, both in our local communities as well as internationally. The link below will lead you to a page with a list of actionable ways to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) These are also great for kids, church small groups, etc.! This is by no means a comprehensive list, but we hope that it will inspire you to proactively get involved in God’s Great Commission by starting somewhere! Let’s be intentional about bearing fruit for His kingdom!
TAKE ACTION…GET INVOLVED! http://wp.me/P8h8cl-3l
***3. Compelled by the Great Commission to be”On-Mission” Right Where You Are!***
There are many daily opportunities to be “on-mission” for Christ. But before we conclude, let’s not overlook some of the most powerful ways to put the gospel on display: by being present in our callings right where we are at! Ephesians 2:8-10 reminds us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” We are only saved by the grace of God alone; our works never make us more worthy of God’s love or acceptance. And yet, we are His workmanship; our Heavenly Father has prepared good works in advance for us to walk out, and a huge part of that is to be present and “on-mission” in each season of life.
In our last post (Part one of “Living Daily with an Eternal Perspective”), we looked at how we often have many roles at different points in our lives as women, and how we can come to view each season as a calling prepared for us by God. Here are just a few practical ideas to help us as wholehearted women of to live the Great Commission right where we are at!
- Wife – “…And the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:31b-33) Ladies, let’s each lift our husband up! Pray for him, support him, encourage him, love him. Ask God to help you see your marriage as a holy calling! (More to come in an upcoming post this month about “Joy by Design” – putting the gospel on display for others by doing family life God’s way!)
- Mother – Provide resources and opportunities for your children as they, too, grow as little disciples of Christ who will make a difference for eternity!
- Voice of the Martyrs children’s DVD’s and books (torchlighters.org)
- Trailblazer books! (These were some of Beth’s faves! Check out trailblazerbooks.com.)
- Creating opportunities. (i.e. Local homeless shelters, Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, crafts with the elderly, showing kindness to a lonely peer, inviting friends to church, living their faith on the field/in their academic endeavors/through their creative pursuits, etc.)
- Coworker/friend/family member – Let your light shine! You love Jesus with all your heart, and others can experience His love through you! So be a witness in all that you do and say. (Philippians 2:14-16) Seek the Lord for opportunities to share your faith, to be a witness of His faithfulness, and to help you love others with the transforming love of Christ!
- Daughter of the King – “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all. Charm is deceitful, and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:29-31) No matter your season of life or where God is calling you to, your identity in Christ and as the daughter of your Heavenly Father remains true. Keep growing in personal relationship with Him, and let Him carry you and guide you. You are His, and He is the One at work in and through you! (Isaiah 43:1, 46:4; Philippians 2:13)
Ladies, let’s live daily with an eternal perspective as we reach others with the life-changing light, love, and truth of the gospel! May our hearts be compelled not by demand but by surrender. In the words of John Stam, missionary and martyr to China, “Does it not thrill our hearts to learn that we do not go forward in our own strength? Think of it, God Himself is with us for our captain! The Lord of Hosts is present in every field of conflict, to encourage us and fight with us. With such a Leader, who never lost a battle, or deserted a soldier in distress, or failed to get through the needed supplies, who would not accept the challenge to go forward, ‘bearing precious seed’?” (from To Die Is Gain: The Triumph of John and Betty Stam) I pray that your heart was stirred today. Let’s each keep an eternal perspective intentionally and wholeheartedly as we live every day on-mission for His Great Commission!
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