Still on the Radical read along with Marla and friends, and I can honestly say that this week I am thankful for Marla's questions. Most weeks there is something new God is working in my heart through the chapter, but this week it feels like something He has been working in my heart through the last year and a half and Chapter 5 was confirmation of conformation. If this seems disjointed, it is because I'm following questions, not my own random stream of thought.
All that being said, the sermon this Sunday was on thankful praying. Not "thank you God for the ten million things you give me that make me happy right now," but more the "thank you God for who you are, thank you for faith, thank you for love, thank you for hope, thank you for the Gospel of salvation, thank you for those who bring the Gospel to me." This was a good one for me to hear. Often I have my list of prayers that I lift up to God, my needs, other's needs, church needs, global needs, etc., but I forget to thank God. People will speak praises during "prayer request time" and I don't write those down. Oh how I fail to worship God rightly! I am ungrateful by omission of thankfulness. 2 Timothy 3 has this intense list of what people who are not lovers of God look like, and at the end of the list God commands us through our brother Paul, "Avoid such people." One of those characteristics nestled nicely in the list is ungratefulness. Ouch.
Making disciples is hard work. It's scary to realize that the only way we can effectively make disciples is by letting people into our lives. It would be so much easier to put people on the ten step road to Christian success and meet them on graduation day to celebrate. The hardest part for me in discipling is being vulnerable and not getting instant results. I want to tell them I've been where they are, and made it out only by the grace of God. I want them to see in my life, through one conversation, the hope of glory. But sometimes it takes days, weeks, years of faithfulness on my part to see even a sparkle of hope in the lives of those I'm discipling. But then I'm reminded that it isn't my work, and it isn't my glory, and it isn't even my disciples. It is Christ in me, the hope of glory. Hopefully as people get more into my life they see more of Him and less of me.
My husband works with an two athiests, a Mormon, a Jehovah's Witness, a Muslim, two baby Christians, and a guy who told him he didn't want to come to Bible study because Bible studies just make him feel like more of a screw up than he already knows he is. This is our mission field. This is the beginning of all nations for us, and I fear we don't take it seriously enough. We have them over for dinner, but we fail often to "fit the gospel into the conversation." This is our lives, our hearts, our hope, and we just want them to see God in us, yet we don't show Him to them. We are willing to reproduce the gospel to others who have already heard it, which is good (2 Pet 1:12,) but it is rare that we reproduce the gospel we have heard to those who haven't heard. We desperately need to be more intentional in this, otherwise in our apathy we are accepting that hell is inevitable for those we love.
So how do I get out of the safety of the church? I have no idea. Seriously i have struggled with this for years. I ran as hard as I could away from God, and when I turned around to see him running up the road to meet me I realized I was home. Then, I lost all of my friends. I had no one but my future husband. I have slowly made friends in the church, and have started to feel safe and secure. The home that I felt was not the church, it was God, but I have made the church home. But this isn't what I'm called to. But I don't have any friend outside of church. I have the guys my husband works with, but it is sort of his mission rubbing off on me to make it our mission. Is that ok? I don't know. Is that enough? I don't think so. This is one that I struggle with over and over. I don't know how to go.
Finally, God is doing great and mighty things in our little family as I work through this book. My husband doesn't like sharing books, so he keeps saying he'll read it when I'm done, but I don't think God isn't willing to let my heart grow out further than my husband can lead it. How sweet it has been to see my husband learn things that I've learned and haven't even talked to him about.
In the last month or so I've found two things built into my marriage that are so sweet. The first is that my husband is much more cheerful giver than I am. God has blessed me with a man who is radical in his giving. When we are discussing some sort of giving, I usually have a number in my head that fits in the budget. In an effort to let him lead when I would much rather lead, I have asked him what he thinks instead of telling him my magic number. Every time he is at least double what I was thinking. And every time God is glorified through his faith. God gave me a balance to my frugality.
I have also been blessed with a husband who is willing to hear where God is leading, even if God is leading to be still. I am overly passionate about everything, so God gives me temperance in human form to help me to simmer rather than boiling over. I have been boiling over about children since before we were married. With the inevitability of getting one year older looming (6 months from now) I have felt a little more nervous, which is saying something. But he just said be patient. He knew it was not what I wanted to hear, but he also knew it was what I needed to hear. He knew, because he was listening, that we needed to let God work on our hearts more. And now, our hearts have been captured for adoption. Not that we didn't think about it, but God needed to work out the sweet reality of our spiritual adoption first so that we were genuinely passionate about it, not just doing it as a means to an end. Something I have longed for since I was in high school, now my husband is passionate about, and excited to be called to. What a kind God we have who doesn't call one of us to a life that the other one is not passionate about!