myMISSION

Seek Out the Best

It’s January! Have you kept up your New Year’s resolution so far? A lot of people see the new year as the perfect time to turn over a new leaf, give up an old habit, or start a new one. According to my Internet searching, 25 percent of resolutions don’t make it the first week! Anybody been there? *Raises hand while drinking that caffeinated beverage* Some of the most popular resolutions last year were to lose weight, to quit smoking, to enjoy life to the fullest, and to get organized. I love that third one—enjoy life to the fullest!

But how exactly do you know if you’re enjoying life to the absolute fullness of its vast potential? What does that look like for each of us? For a lot of Christians, we may choose things that are better than other things, but we don’t necessarily choose what’s best for ourselves or for our relationship with Christ.

Good . . . Better . . . Best . . .

We all need new starts from time to time. For me though, I’m trusting for God’s good, God’s better, God’s best.

In other words, I’m done planning my own life.

My plans are always less than His plans. His plans are beyond my imagination.

My plans are based on what I know now. God knows the future.

My plans are really my own desires. God’s desires are pure and all encompassing.

My plans might be for my good. God’s plans are for the good of all people.

My plans are just for now. God’s plans are eternal.

I’m limited. God is limitless. His good, His better, His best.

So how will I know?

God will always show up in my time with Him in the Word. He will lead me through prayer. And He will speak to me through the counsel of godly family and friends. He will orchestrate events, open doors and close them, and allow sickness and health. He will continue to change me into His likeness. As I continue to turn to Him in every area of my life, I can trust that He is in control, do the next thing, and just live free.

The Real Needs Around Me

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36 NIV).

The second I opened the door to my modest, safe sedan I knew it was gone. My purse. Not just any purse—my beautiful, brown leather tote that held, in a sense, my entire life. While I was disappointed my daily “goods” were gone—extra pens, a flash drive, and my planner—I felt vulnerable knowing all of my legal identification was gone. My license, passport, Social Security card, and even my journal were all stolen.

I was in the process of getting updated cards and forms this year, so I had all of my valuable, personal information tucked away in my favorite purse.

“You should contact your credit card companies, Social Security, and report your stolen passport,” the police said. “But nine times out of ten, the person who did this was just looking for cash. The thief has probably never seen a passport before and wouldn’t know what to do with any of that information.”

The Love in Us

In recent years, I think a lot of us have become increasingly aware of the world around us. I believe that’s because the world has been coming to us more and more. In years past, we had to step on a plane to encounter a large majority of the cultures in this world, but now we can simply step onto the sidewalk of our own neighborhoods. It’s really a beautiful thing.

It’s not always easy to see things from someone else’s perspective, but I think that is truly how we can become more aware of the world around us. That means actually getting out and talking to people who don’t look or think or act like you! As a mother, I can definitely say that I have not gone certain places when I was uncomfortable, and I’ve used my son as my excuse for not facing those fears. (I believe I read “perfect love drives out fear,” right?!)

Christ was all about unity and love throughout his ministry on earth. First John 4:12 says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (NIV).

My Own Little World

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost walked into someone or tripped on a sidewalk because I was looking down at my phone. In fact, there have been multiple days where I’ve walked across campus to get to class in a crowd of people, but I didn’t see any of them because I was so fixated on my phone or lost in my own thoughts.

Even though my eyes were open, I failed to see others.

Between texting friends and scrolling through Instagram, I get so caught up in my own little world and become oblivious to the one around me. With my head down, I let my world consist of my schedule, my friends, and my interests, with very little time for anything else.

But how can I live on mission for Christ when I can’t even see the ones He’s called me to serve? How can God open my eyes to the needs of the world if I refuse to look up from my own?

If we want to see the world around us, we must start by fixing our gaze on Jesus and posturing ourselves in a position of prayer, asking God to remove the distractions and allow us to see the world through Jesus’ eyes. Then everyday tasks, such as walking to class, become missional opportunities.

A City on a Hill

So I just moved to a new city and it is vastly different from the place I came from. Along with its special climate (hot and hotter), this new city has various types of buildings that are unfamiliar to me; a different style of dress—for the women in particular; working hours that are not the same as the ones I am accustomed to; and a different language I do not understand (yet).

But out of all these new-to-me observations, I think the one that hits me the hardest is that two distinct kinds of people live here. Now, I’m not talking ethnicities or culture because this place is probably more akin to a melting pot than anywhere in the United States really. No, the two kinds of people I recognize here are those who are living in deception and those who are living in the truth. This difference is much more evident here than where I came from, though the same thing can be said about both places, or any place for that matter.

The simplest way I can think of putting it is this: There are those on this earth who are perishing without Christ Jesus and those who are being saved by God’s grace through faith in Him.

Light Makes a Difference

Light is beautiful. And fascinating. Light makes a difference. It changes darkness instantly. There is so much darkness in our world. What would it take for God’s light to shine in new ways this Christmas season?

I watched a documentary recently on the Star of Bethlehem. It is amazing all God did to point to the Christ child, to celebrate this awesome gift. A light, pointing the way.

I wonder, how can we point others to Christ during this special time of year? How can we be light to others? Would there be a simple, humble corner of the earth where we could be that light, even to those as meek as shepherds? And would God use it to call even people as important as Magi from the East, to Himself?

I’m Right in Front of You

We had ten beautiful minutes of uninterrupted, engaging discussion, but in a matter of fateful seconds, I had lost their hard-earned attention. Before I knew it, the entire classroom of 11th-grade students had smartphones in hand and their eyes glued to the tiny, glowing screens. In a matter of seconds, I changed from the interesting, insightful, wealth of knowledge (ok, maybe just slightly interesting!) to nothing short of the lifeless metal desk beside me. Those pocket-sized vortexes held my 16-year-old students captive—more than any book I had begged them to read.

Teaching is just one of the dozen areas of my life that have been thoroughly affected—for better or for worse—by technology. I’ve been engaged in a prayer meeting for the nations when my phone rings and disrupts everyone. I’ve been in a deep discussion with a younger woman when my professor emails me an important document.

Stay Connected

A lot of reasons seem pretty valid for disconnecting with someone these days. With the ever-growing use of social media, it’s fairly easy to get offended by some thought your classmate from kindergarten posted that you never would have known if she hadn’t been awake at 3 a.m. with no one to talk to. A lot of Christians may choose to stay away from social media for this very reason. Not this girl.

I am absolutely grateful for such unique ways to connect with people. Here I am, approximately 909 miles away from my parents on a daily basis, but I can still see anything that is going on in their lives that they want me to see! When I turn FaceTime on, no matter who I’m calling, my son now says, “Memaw? Memaw!” because he knows that usually his Memaw’s face is going to pop up. He’s going to get to grow up knowing her face, just because of technology like this! We can share videos, pictures, posts, deep thoughts, and even the thoughts that come across our mind that generations before us would never have dreamed of sharing!

Intentionally Present

I recently returned to my current home after spending a week in an extremely large and diverse city. I noticed this pattern of distracting oneself while I was there. Most people did not talk to anyone they did not know. In fact, probably about 75 percent of the people I encountered had on some type of headphones or were absorbed in their electronic devices.

They may have thought that having headphones on or staring at a device in their hands would deter people from talking with them, and for most people, that may have been the case. But I took it as a challenge: how many people can I get to talk with me?

The result was great. When I started to talk with people, nearly all of them at least appeared to enjoy making a connection with someone. And even more than that, every day I was able to share at least once the full gospel—Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection—with someone on public transportation!

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