Everyday Faith

More Than Friendly

Ever since I began my journey with Christ, I have felt a little like a project – a work in progress.  I feel like I should walk around, most of the time, with a sign on my chest: “Please pardon my mess.  I’m under construction.”

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Sometimes it feels healthy.  I know that Jesus is working on me, and I am not finished yet.  I rejoice in that hope, because I know that as horribly screwed up as I may be on any given day, that’s not how I’ll be forever.  Jesus is working on every part of me, and what I am today is no indication of my eternal state.

Sometimes, though…sometimes it feels more like an attack than healthy sanctification.  Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror (or in the mirror of my heart, as the case may be) and see so many things that are wrong with myself that I can’t even see Christ for all of the mess.  It is at those times that I have to remind myself that I’m accepted.  Forgiven.  The precious child of my Creator, and while I am not all that I should be, I am loved beyond anything I’ll ever understand in this life.  I have to remember sometimes that when I feel like there is more wrong with me than right and chosen and beloved, it is not Jesus who is speaking those things to me.

There are many times, though, when I am certain that the ache I feel is one induced by the hands of the Potter steadily, persistently molding me from the inside out.  And it really is an ache.  It doesn’t hurt, per se, but it feels like those growing pains from when I was a child.  It’s the feeling that something in me is being changed…stretched…expanded for more than I’ve been experiencing.

It’s that feeling that I’m ready for more, and that it’s time to grow.

I’ve been in a place like that lately.  There has been a pressing ache in my heart for a few weeks now, and because it does not feel overwhelming (but rather, very doable once I figure out the way), I know it is Christ calling me to something more.

It is Christ calling me to a new kind of Christianity.  For years, my faith has been more about myself – about how I can change and become more like Jesus.  Yes, that is part of what this journey should be, certainly, but what I’ve been reminded of repeatedly is that a private, introverted faith will not spread outward.  A tree will not spawn more trees if the only seeds it drops are at the base of its own trunk.

And spreading outward…isn’t that what this faith of ours should do?  Jesus told us to go into the world and tell people about Him in action and words.  His last instructions to us were not to simply pray for our own process of conversion, but to reach out into the world to change everything we encounter in His name.

I know my role in the body of Christ.  I write…I speak…I minister within the Church in different ways.  But when I am outside the walls of the church…outside the parameters of my relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ…that is where I falter.  That is where Jesus is calling me to something more.

It’s those days when I’m at the grocery store.  It’s my weekly trip to the library.  It’s lunch at Panera and the car line at my daughter’s school.  It’s every one of those everyday interactions that seems like just a part of my routine…but that could be a divine appointment if it were in the right hands.

I know I’m called to be a light.  Jesus said it plainly: “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14)  A light that is meant to shine.  A light that is meant to be seen.  What I’m struggling with, though, is just what, exactly, that means.  What does a light do?  What difference does a light make?  If I am to be a light in every dark place I enter, what should I do or be to make my presence full of light and life to everyone I meet?  What does that look like?

It’s easy to reduce this light-bearing task to little more than friendliness.  A smile at the girl clearing tables nearby…an extra greeting to the cashier…a “have a good day” as I hold the door for someone.  But is that all this is supposed to be?  Friendliness?

No, this light I’m called to bear…it’s love.  Love that shatters any darkness it encounters like a crystal goblet in the hands of a toddler.  Love.  Love that penetrates…permeates…permanently changes everything it touches.  It’s light and life and love straight from heaven, and it requires something more than what I have within myself.  The stretching I’m feeling is the realization that I’ve missed it, and that if I want to get it, I have to change the way I do life.

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So what is being asked of me?  What do I do?  How do I love people – really love the people in my path?  I have no idea.  I do know, though, that the ability to love like that is not within myself.  I cannot do that.  My prayer has been simply that God would allow people to experience Him somehow through me.

I want answers, you know?  I want to know just what I’m supposed to do.  Part of me is defensive, saying, “Well, God, you made me the way I am.  I’m an introvert.  That’s just how I am.  If I keep to myself, that’s just me being me.”  Part of me, though, knows there is something else God wants from me.  He wants to stretch me.  He wants the branches of my life to reach outward.  He wants me to be like Him in everything I say and do.  He was many things……and much more than simply friendly.

I don’t know what that will look like for me.  I pray, though, that I’m not hindering Christ as He works on me.  This life of mine is a construction zone, and I don’t want to get in the way.

It’s a journey.  We’ll see where it goes.

Journeying with you,

Jessica

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