Monday, September 21, 2009

Ladies, Get Ready For Action!

I just got back from a 4-day trip to Ohio. This trip has been anticipated for a while now, but I never quite knew when it would come. This trip was for my Grandma's funeral.

This was the 3rd funeral that I have attended in the last 8 months -- all of which were funerals for my grandparents. Grandpa passed away in November. Pop passed away in February. Grandma passed away on the 6th of this month. They all lived very full lives -- 98, 91 and 96 years ... a total of 285 years in total, but when death comes, you're never quite prepared for it.

And with all of this death lately, I feel like God has really sparked an urgency in my heart for the gospel ... the type of urgency we see in 1 Peter and Colossians where we need to be "prepared for action" to give an answer for what we believe and to "make the most of every opportunity" we have to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the people that God has place within our sphere of influence. This urgency comes because of the fact that I don't know if my grandparents knew Jesus the way that I know Him. And to think that even in the end of their lives, be it a few months or even the last nanosecond of their time here, how different their lives would have been because of their belief in Jesus. It is my hope that they were able to experience His saving grace for themselves and are now basking in His eternal glory in heaven. Sadly though, I will not know until I too meet Jesus in heaven. (However, when I get there, I am sure that my grandparents will only be a fleeting thought, if they come to mind at all, when compared with the resplendent glory of Christ.) But it is sad to me, that I don't know if they knew Jesus and I feel that it is my life's call to make sure that I do everything in my power to communicate the gospel to everyone that God places within my sphere of influence so that I might be able to celebrate the joy of Jesus' grace with them while they're here on earth and use that shared joy to introduce yet more people to His love as well.

Fortunately, I did have the opportunity to share the gospel with my Grandpa 9 months before he passed away ... that visit was actually the last time I saw him. My explanation was a bit shaky and there are definitely things that I wish I would have said differently, but I know that regardless of what words came out of my mouth, God was able to use them for His glory. I wish so much that I would have been more courageous earlier on in my life so that we would have had more time. But that too is all in God's timing, and I can only trust that God used that situation in Grandpa's life to meet him exactly where he was and is using that situation to grow me for the future.

I feel however that this sense of urgency comes in spurts though. Over the last year and a half, I would get all fired up when one of my grandparents would be in the hospital and we wouldn't know how much longer they had, or immediately after one of their funerals, or as I reminisce about their lives, but then I allow myself to get sucked back into my selfish desires and forget about the call God's placed on my life. How do I change this? Obviously ongoing prayer and immersion into God's word is the only fix, but to be honest, I don't always yearn to do those things. I am a sinful and self-indulgent person. But I know I need God's discipline to get in a healthy rhythm. Only God can change my perspective and give me a compassionate heart that longs for others to know Jesus. This is not going to be an easy task, but I pray that you will join me in this challenge, and that we would not be apathetic and just sit on the sidelines and watch the people in our lives struggle through life without Jesus. It might seem like a scary task to approach our neighbors, co-workers, and even family members and share Jesus with them time and time again, but on an eternal spectrum, it should be worth it.

And I'm not saying that we should just hand them a track and be done or just scream Jesus to their face. Heck no! That's not the example we see in scripture at all. It's all about building relationships with people, loving them, learning all about the gospel that we can, and then showing them the gospel through the way we live our lives and speak it to them and teach it to them when it's appropriate. But we cannot convince ourselves that speaking about Jesus and teaching them about Jesus only happens on rare occasions. I think we'd be surprised how much people will welcome the thought of Jesus. They may not believe it right away, but just to mention his name and make Him more of a frequent part of our conversation and life -- non-compartmentalized -- would make a huge difference.

In the case of my Grandpa, regardless if he believed or not, he did communicate a sense of understanding and trust in the words that I spoke to him because of how those words lined up with my life. I don't remember his exact words to me, but I do remember that he respected me and thought very highly of me, so because of that I am very thankful and hopeful that the Lord used that to help him forget reason and accept Jesus for who He is because of the small glimpse he saw of Jesus in me. (I'm not saying this to boast about myself. But as I try to understand how to make this urgency a greater part of my life and something that actually compels me toward ACTION, it helps to relate it to past experience.)

Do you have any stories like this that you'd like to share? If so, please feel free to share in the comments section.

Addendum: So, after I had the chance to digest what I wrote, I had a few more thoughts that I want to add in regards to my Grandma.

After talking to mom on several occasions about Grandma's beliefs, mom seems to feel pretty strongly that Grandma was a believer, and for that I'm very thankful. And if that's the case, I'm less sad about her death, because that means that she is now with Jesus. Who could want anything better? However, it saddens me that Jesus wasn't so much apart of her life that we got to talk about it together. (I am able to do that with my mom and it's a huge blessing in  my life.) My mom seems to think that "it was just her generation - people were more personal about their spirituality and just didn't talk about." That may be true for some, but I can't believe that's the case for an entire generation. I respect my mom and so I don't want to use this medium to call her out or anything like that, but I do believe that scripture is very clear about how we're suppose to live our lives and they're suppose to be lives of ACTION not SILENCE; regardless of the generation or time we're living in. (Paul shows us this in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.) The Bible is still living and active and we're suppose to follow its directive for our lives because it's God's Word. (Not that we always follow this to the T because of our sinful nature, of course.) The only difference should be the way that we live our life out according to our culture -- to live in the world, to have influence in that world ... but not to adopt the practices of that world that are contrary to the Lord.

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