I get to gather with a group of young married couples, approximately in age range from 25-35 each week. A good amount of that time, I get the opportunity to lead in opening the Word of God, examining it, and figuring out how to walk with the Lord in our lives. It is a wonderful opportunity, and one in which I am grateful for.
The past year, I have spoken a great deal on missions, living missionally, and such. Grand right? A missions guy talking about missions! We have focused first upon spending some time defining what "missions" is. Now, we are working through what it means to live on mission in our daily lives. Throughout, I have challenged and encouraged this group to begin building relationships, right where they live. So if the Lord has put them in a neighborhood, take responsibility for that neighborhood and live for the Gospel. Love it. Meet your neighbors. Have cookouts. Serve them. Care for them. All for the sake of the Gospel.
An encouraging note is that people are starting regularly to think and try this. This story rings so true, I must share it. Incredible of the ways the Lord works at times.
A couple has been sharing with me quite frequently the desire to get to know their neighbors. I have talked with them a bit about it, and tried to encourage them. This past week, the wife of this couple was praying for a way to get to know the neighbors behind her. She wasn't sure how it was going to work. One afternoon, her kids were playing in the backyard as they usually do. No big deal. She always kept a watch on them. She looked out, and all of the sudden was in a panic. Her little boy was gone, the gate was open, and their dog was gone as well. At this point, if you are a parent, you realize the absolute chilling fear that runs up your spine. As any good parent did, she panicked. :-) She ran outside, looking for her little boy, and could not find him. She ran to the neighbors (remember, the ones she was trying to figure out how to get to connect with), and there was her little boy, standing in their garage with them. Distraught, she wiped her tears away, had a brief conversation with them, thanked them, and went home with her little boy. A few moments passed, and then she realized it may not have been an accident that this happened. She then proceeded to go back over, have a conversation with her neighbors. They invited her in, and they are now connected. Now we pray that the Gospel will enter the relationship and our Lord will move in their lives.
Sometimes living on mission is messy. When my friend was praying about connecting with her neighbors, she certainly never thought that it would be at the cost of 5 minutes of certain fear in her heart that something had happened to her little boy.
Sometimes we pray things we are not prepared to handle. Sometimes the things we want come in ways that we never could have imagined. But the Gospel calls us to live lives that are laid down to the Lord. Whatever you ask, we will do. To whomever you call us, we will go. Whatever you ask us to give, we will give.
I pray that each of you this week will figure out what and who it is that God is opening doors with for the sake of the Gospel, and that you would seize that moment, for the glory of God. And if God asks you the sacrifice your comfort, understanding, money, or energy to see it through, that you would have a smile on your face, for eternal matters are at stake.
For the Glory of God.
Matthew is 34 years old and currently lives in St Louis, Missouri with his wife Leslie. He serves as the Associate Pastor at The Groves Church, in Webster Groves, Missouri.