Sometimes God gives us a picture of what is taking place beyond our expectations that keeps us going. It’s not that we are necessarily asking for some encouragement (although it’s always nice to have at times), and it’s not that we will stop doing what we are doing if God doesn’t reveal himself to us. And yet, without notice, God orchestrates a time where we are allowed to experience the beauty of our work of discipleship that causes us to pause and reflect.
I enjoyed one of these times recently. It was a Sunday where I was asked to speak at a church in another city where we previously lived. Since I was a guest, several of my friends who lived nearby chose to come and support me. These friends were both peers in this journey of discipleship as well as those that I had come alongside in previous years, as distant as 14 years ago.
At lunch, we enjoyed conversation with my disicpling peers. We reflected on the past 30 years of building into the lives of others. We have all stayed the course, no matter where we have lived and no matter our occupation, we have all continued in the slow and steady work of meeting regularly with a few guys and guiding them on the journey of faith. We talked about the “successes”, we shared the frustrations. We enjoyed hearing how each of us has changed over the years with respect to “how” we go about the work of discipleship – and yet we have all continued in the work, trusting that this is what we are called to do and believing in the impact of the work.
In the afternoon, a bbq was organized by a number of the guys that we had had the opportunity to build into some 14 years ago. These young guys were in university at the time and now are all married with children of their own. We talked of the experiences we shared. We heard of their ongoing faith journeys and how they have stepped in to serving for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Those with leadership gifts are a driving force in their local church contexts. Yes, they have the busyness of life surrounding them with spouses, children and careers, yet the work that we engaged in with them some 13-15 years ago continues to influence their lives to this day.
And as I drove home that evening, my heart was smiling. I thanked God for allowing me to experience the beauty of that day, something completely unexpected and yet so amazingly tangible.
There is a phrase, “a long obedience in the same direction.” This is what the past 30 years of discipling others has been for me. Who are the guys, ask them to join me. Meet every week for two or so years. Engage the scriptures, memorize verses, challenge, encourage, serve, pray. And then do it all over again the next week. When I have given these few guys all I can, find the next guys. Meet every week for two or so years. Engage the scriptures, memorize verses, challenge, encourage, serve, pray, And the do it all over again, etc, etc.
I am grateful for the lives that have intersected with mine. I am grateful that God gave me this day that gave me insight into what the past 30 years have meant to so many. I am grateful for the work of influencing just a few at a time and being a piece of their journey of faith.
I pray that I would continue with “a long obedience in the same direction.” And I pray that you would also choose to stay in the game. And there will be times, when you least expect it, that God will give you a glimpse into the lives of those you came alongside, and your heart will smile.
For the kingdom.