Posted on September 12, 2016
Nine years ago we moved to North Carolina. At the time, we had an almost 4 year old and a nearly 2 year old. The moving truck arrived at our new home, where my husband was left to deal with the movers and two little boys. I was in the Urgent Care with gallstones, feeling guilty for leaving him alone, yet anxious that I was possibly going to have my gall bladder removed. While all of this was going on, a neighbor came over to introduce herself to my husband. Not bearing a casserole, or cookies, or offering to help with the boys….no, she had a brochure for her church. We never became friends with her really, nor did we ever attend her church.
As I was reading, and rereading, Brandon Hatmaker’s A Mile Wide, I was reminded of this seemingly insignificant event. Within this book, Brandon urges us to dig deeper in our faith and one way to do that is to try to live more like Jesus lived and to reach people how Jesus did. Jesus met people right where they were. He reached out to the prostitutes, lepers, the “sinners”. So many people today are afraid to come to the church. They fear being judged. They fear they won’t “fit in”. They fear being hurt…again. Rather than dropping off church brochures, maybe we should start reaching people by making sure people are fed, clothed, comfortable, and loved. Then we can let Jesus do His thing!
Romans 15:7 tells us “Accept one another. then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Within our communities, we need to create judgment free zones, where anyone can walk into a room and feel welcome, and LOVED. As Mr. Hatmaker noted, We do not get to provide input about someone’s eternity without having earned trust.
I have pages of notes, quotes, and scripture from my reading(s) of A Mile Wide. And I guarantee I will read it again and again, until probably every line is highlighted. Because with each reading, something new stands out. A new concept or idea or suggestion on ways to dig deeper in my faith.
As anyone who knows me, or reads this blog with any regularity knows, I have been wrestling with what my place is or what my calling is. My kids are growing up, I have moved several times, I have a degree, but no career, and no sense of what I want to be when I “grow up”. I feel like, since I am nearly 40, I should know what I have been called to do by this point. But here is the thing I realized as I was reading “A Mile Wide”, maybe I already am doing it.
Maybe it’s because I’m the grandchild of a preacher, or the daughter of someone who has led groups at church and gone on Mission trips to South America and always helped single moms in poverty, that I believed I needed to be doing something BIG. I should be called to write beautiful, inspiring, funny books like Brandon’s wife, Jen. Or I should adopt kids from Third World countries. But Dear Jesus, if the four kids I birthed on my own, don’t make me crazy enough! I can’t even with dealing with more fighting, or whining, or sports!! And God has already called someone to be Jen Hatmaker (although I am pretty funny), and thank Jesus He did, but that is not my job.
“True mission recognizes that where we are is where we’ve been sent.” This was one of my favorite sentences. I don’t have to do or be something BIG. I have to go where God sent me, RIGHT NOW. While the Church often leads us to believe that we need to complete Spiritual tasks, Jesus’ kingdom only requires Spiritual surrender. I love this quote from Andy Stanley, “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.” But I have had a hard time BELIEVING it.
After reading, and rereading, I’m realizing that I am, in fact, ENOUGH. I know that I am a child of God. Maybe my mission, in this moment, right now, is to raise my children and teach them to love as Jesus loved. Teach them to sow fruit. Teach them to give, and be kind, and reach out to those in need. Maybe making copies for my kids’ teachers or volunteering to pack backpack lunches is where I am called in this season. I can send goods to flood victims in Louisiana. I don’t have to be BIG, I just need to show love.
” There is so much value in the small places of our lives; the work that seems invisible, the effort no one seems or notices, the quiet obedience that feels small when everyone around you seems ‘big and important.’ Smallness is the substance of the Gospel and the foundation of the kingdom.”- Brandon Hatmaker
Now don’t get me wrong. I have so many areas where I do need to grow and dig deeper. I should find a new Bible Study. I should memorize more scripture. And “A Mile Wide” is full of suggestions and ideas to reach deeper in my community, as well as my church. But I am learning that I don’t necessarily have to DO more or BE more than I am.
So I may never get a book published, or start a non-profit, or build an orphanage, or any of the other amazing things people do when God calls them to it. But right now today, I can set a wider table, including and loving others just as Jesus did. I can choose to love. I can answer God’s call with where I am in this season, and maybe someday He will lead me elsewhere. But for now, I am going to just show love.
And I am going to start showing LOVE, my giving away a copy of A MILE WIDE! I’m so excited for this! Because I want as many people as possible to see this book and know about this book, you can win a copy of it by sharing this post. That is all. Share it on Facebook, Twitter, whatever, but every time you share it, you will be entered into a drawing for a copy! I will do the drawing on Friday, September 16! Now go choose Love!