As my 35th birthday approaches I reflect on the difference the last decade has made. Ask a 15-year-old or even someone in their 20’s like the volunteers I work with, and they will probably tell you that most maturing happens between ages 15 and 25. However I beg to differ. I have found no other decade thus far that has both matured me and made me more youthful than this last decade.
Perhaps it is because my family dynamics are better than ever or because I have mastered my job of 10 years, but my gut tells me it’s more than that. I know this maturity and this youthfulness has come from a deeper relationship with God as a result of many enriching friendships with genuine investment in my life. These individuals and church communities have been intentional about their relationships with me. They not only loved me with their own love but with the love of Christ. They met with me, prayed for me, encouraged me, counseled me. I wouldn’t trade the last absolutely excruciating years of spiritual stretching, molding and refining if it meant going back to where I was in my faith at 25.
As my church prepares to start discipling relationships, I am both fearful of failure and confident in God’s grace. The same grace he has given me in the last decade will be shown to me in the next…and shown to my discipleship partner as well. It is comforting to reflect on how God used many ordinary people in my life to do extraordinary deeds for him. Not once did he use a celebrity, a earthly king/queen, or a genius to disciple me. He used a dietitian, a wealth manager, a housewife, a manager, a college student, a pharmacist, and many others to disciple me. None of them were Bible scholars, sinless, and few were even in places of authority in the church. He can and will use me when I step out in faith.
Lord, I am so grateful for the way you have used the past decade to mold me into who I need to be in the next. I step out in faith to disciple others because I know you are the only tool I need. Thank you for your grace and mercy. Amen.
In some cultures and religions if one were to convert to another religion they would be disowned by family or would even be persecuted. Today I was asked by a dear friend what I would do if one of my future children decided to convert to Islam from Christianity. My answer was very long. Like my friend who is of another religion I would accept my child because family is first. Not only would I accept my child, but my faith community, my church body would too. My friend asked how can a body of Christian faith possibly accept someone who was formerly Christian now Muslim.
My answer was this. Jesus gives us the great commandment. Love the Lord your God with your whole being, and love your neighbor as yourself. So basically, love God, love yourself, love your neighbor. If the greatest commandment is to love, which in some scripture is actually translated “grace”, then I am called to accept my child, my friend, my coworker whatever their faith.
How can one accept a family member or a friend that they have taken time nurturing in the Christian faith if they convert? It may seem like time wasted to some, but it can be accomplished. Even the most broken-hearted parent or friend can show grace through the power of the Holy Spirit who stirs up words of wisdom and encouragement, speaks truth in love, and heals broken relationships.
Is there someone in your life who has broken your heart by offending you and God? Maybe they were unfaithful, dishonest, deceiving, abusive. You can find a way to show mercy and grace through the Holy Spirits counsel.
If you need a starting point visit a website I have found very helpful, http://www.iamsecond.com. There are videos there on all topics. Once you watch the video reflect in silence or through journaling. You might want to write a letter to that person, and you may not even send it, but find healing in writing down your message of forgiveness and grace.
I hope you have found this post helpful. Please leave your comments and likes if you so desire.