When I was asked to write for the blog, he specifically asked us not to share our “whole life story“ just a piece.
But I’m 35 years old – so going back 12 years isn’t my “whole” story.
About 12 years ago I was finishing up my time in college and asking God to reveal to me what was next. I opened my Bible and prayed. God brought a verse to mind:
“Immediately they left their nets and followed Him” (Mark 1:16–18)
I opened my bible to read the context.
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Mark 1:16-18)
In that moment, it clicked for me – these were real people who literally just dropped what they were doing to walk where Jesus walked.
It was so simple and yet so…not simple.
Their physical nearness to Jesus gave them firsthand access his rich teachings and eyewitness experience of his deep love for them and the world. However, it also meant that they lost their jobs and ultimately would become outcasts in society. When they left their nets, they did not just leave a hobby. For these men, dropping their nets meant dropping their stability, security, and likely a lot of respect from the people around them. In this instance, they were breaking with their past identity and beginning to fully embrace the unknown and costly future of truly and actually following Jesus.
This decision would be far costlier and joyous than they ever could have imagined. When they dropped their nets, they also found freedom in their empty hands. With empty hands they could now pick up their crosses and go where Jesus would go.
“If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34).
“I want to live my life with my hands wide open.”
My friends have regularly used this phrase (or something like it) to describe their aim in life. To me, that’s what the disciples chose to do. They opened their hands and dropped what they were clinging to because they knew Jesus could fill them back up with something far richer (though not always easier.) To live my life with “hands open” means to recognize that God has simply entrusted me to steward the time, circumstances, people, and materials that he has placed in my life. They are not mine but I am responsible for utilizing them for his glory. In the times when I close my fists tight and grip my “net” instead of letting go in faith, I find that it’s hard to pick up my cross and truly go where He is going.
So…how do I live missionally right now?”
I guess my answer would be that I just live an ordinary life trying to keep my spiritual eyeballs and hands open. With eyes open, I can see where God is at work. With hands open, I am freed up to join him immediately.
I asked somebody once, “How do I know where God is at work?” They answered, “Just lift up your head, he’s working all around you.” As we are living our ordinary lives, we are regularly rubbing shoulders with people that God is pursuing. It’s just a matter of if we are paying attention or not and if we are willing to join Him and them in the process.
Two practical examples in my life:
We are involved in foster care in our community. We have been given a home to steward that has an extra bedroom and we see that God is at work in the midst of the brokenness of foster care. So, we “left” our comfort and said yes to joining Jesus where he is working. We are only a couple of months in and we are not naïve to think that it will be an easy journey. Loving people the way Jesus has loved us involves long nights and early mornings sometimes. This a very tangible way to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We want to meeet practical needs for things like food and clothes. We also want to meet spiritual needs for the children and all of the adults involved. We pray, we read bible stories with the kiddos, and trust God for salvation.
God has surrounded me with unbelievers at our gym. I am an awkward person and I’ve learned to fully embrace it (that’s my husband Jason and I dressed up for an ‘80s theme night at our gym!) I ask people for their phone numbers and I ask them to hangout with me. It’s a weird thing to do, but I do it anyway. I get scared a lot, but I do it anyway. I want to sit across the table from them and hear their stories. I want to be able to verbally share the Gospel of Jesus with them. The goal is not just salvation , but actual friendship.
Side note: I do not share the Gospel as much as I would like. However, when I do, it’s mostly rough. I stumble through it and my heart beats fast and I sweat. I say that just to say – it’s hard for most of us but we are called to share nonetheless. Good news – God is the one who saves.
Ultimately, I try to make myself available. To be honest, there are days when I feel like this isn’t enough. But I believe that to live our ordinary lives with a missional mindset is a big part of making disciples of all nations. Oftentimes we read that Jesus was just walking down the street (ordinary) when his day would be “interrupted” with opportunities to perform miracles, show mercy, and share the Gospel message.
I am called to GO: across the street, across the gym, and across my own living room so that I can show and share the story of Salvation with those who don’t know it. It can be uncomfortable, awkward, and even dangerous. Is this not how Jesus loved us? Jesus loves us so much that He left His home and inserted himself into uncomfortable, awkward, and dangerous places so that we might be found by Him. We are called to drop our proverbial nets, too. And go where we see that He is working.
“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs are wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”