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Summer time, easy livin’ and mission drift

It’s not that I’m outright disobedient to Jesus’ demand to go and make disciples. It’s that, like Jill and Scrubb in CS Lewis’ The Silver Chair, I lose focus. Drift. Get distracted. My default pursuit of fun and comfort takes over. Aslan draws Jill and Scrbb into Narnia to accomplish a special mission: rescue Prince Rillian, the crown prince of Narnia, now missing for over ten years.

It’s not that I’m outright disobedient to Jesus’ demand to go and make disciples. It’s that, like Jill and Scrubb in CS Lewis’ The Silver Chair, I lose focus. Drift. Get distracted. My default pursuit of fun and comfort takes over. Aslan draws Jill and Scrbb into Narnia to accomplish a special mission: rescue Prince Rillian, the crown prince of Narnia, now missing for over ten years.The great lion gives Jill four signs to help them on their quest. She is to repeat the signs every morning and every night. Before long her diligent daily reviews become more haphazard. Along comes the green queen with directions to Harfang, the village of the “Gentle Giants,” where shelter, a merry fire, and comfortable beds await. As they slog through a worsening blizzard they think less and less of the missing Rillian. More and more of hot food, clean sheets and soft beds. In Harfang they are welcomed and comforted until, they see from a window that they have missed a sign. And in the kitchen, Jill discovers two giant pie crusts and a cookbook opened to a recipe for man pies. Danger brings clarity. Their guide, the Marshwiggle, describes The Drift this way: “If we had had our minds on our job when we were at the Ruinous City we’d have been shown how [to stay on course and follow Aslan’s signs]—found a little door, or a cave, or a tunnel, met someone to help us. Might have been (you never know) Aslan himself…Aslan’s instructions always work.” We who call ourselves Christians all like the idea of following Jesus. And reaching others with the good news of eternal life. We celebrate when another person gives his heart and life to Christ. But the reality of praying that God will use us to draw the people around us to himself, hanging with outsiders, ramping up our compassion radar to the needs around us, telling others who Jesus is and how to find the eternal kind of life he offers—all that’s involved in actually following Jesus and “making disciples as we go” we may find not quite as likeable. Few of us dig our heels in and cross our arms and tell Jesus we are not going to do this. But in our nice, busy life way we don’t do it. Danger brings clarity and prayer brings creativity and opportunity. The fragility of our times brings spiritual well being closer to the surface, both our own and others. It reminds us to pray. To get our minds “back on our job.” In The Great Adventure, a book that has inspired me to get refocused on my job, Lee Strobel reminds us of a “little known law of evangelism: The more equipped we are, the more God seems to use us.” Summer is a great time to read some good resources. (Also recommended, Soul Craving by Erwin McManus and The Case for Faith by Strobel.) Summer is also a good time to hang with neighbors. Grill some salmon. Make some ice cream. Smoke some pork butt (my husband’s latest inspiration). Have people over. Gently steer the conversation to the heart level. (What is your greatest challenge right now?) Offer to pray. Tell the stories of how God loves us, cares for us and meets us where we are. Be available. As we keep our mission in mind we see God show up (showing us a little door here, a tunnel there, sending the help we need), reminding us that we are simply partnering with him in the great work he loves to do: loving and redeeming people. His “instructions always work”—for his glory and our joy. Some times we get so locked in the bubble of our families and churches that it’s hard to get out. As an outreach team we are talking about ways to be available to others. We're brainstorming how to better partner with our local elementary school to help, even mentor needy kids. Some of the guys are discussing coaching kids’ sports. I have found new friends by starting a book group and, now that we’ve moved, starting a book group for women like me who have just moved. We read After the Boxes Are Unpacked: Moving On After Moving In by Susan Miller. Some churches use her book as a Sunday morning class curriculum. Downloading a move together has helped everyone in the group. For some, leaving their old home, friends and life is deeply painful. It’s always a challenge to build friendships, find new doctors and learn all the ropes in a new place. We explored our new community with “field trips.” Now that we’ve finished the book we are staying connected with breakfasts and boat rides and Starbucks by the fountain. Since most moves happen over the summer I hope to start a new Just Moved reading group in September. For all of us there is some passion or shared life experience that is a natural connect point with people who need more of what Jesus has to offer. For more ideas of what you might do this summer see Outreach Magazine .

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Lael writes and speaks about faith and culture and how God renews our vision and desire for Him and his Kingdom. She earned a master's degree (MAT) in the history of ideas from the University of Texas at Dallas, and has taught Western culture and apologetics at secular and Christian schools and colleges. Her long-term experience with rheumatoid arthritis and being a pastor’s wife has deepened her desire to minister to the whole person—mind, heart, soul and spirit. Lael has co-hosted a talk radio program, The Things That Matter Most, on secular stations in Houston and Dallas about what we believe and why we believe it with guests as diverse as Dr. Deepak Chopra, atheist Sam Harris and VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer. (Programs are archived on the website.) Lael has authored four books, including a March 2011 soft paper edition of A Faith and Culture Devotional (now titled Faith and Culture: A Guide to a Culture Shaped by Faith), Godsight, and Worldproofing Your Kids. Lael’s writing has also been featured in Focus on the Family and World magazines, and she has appeared on many national radio and television programs. Lael and her husband, Jack, now make their home in South Carolina.