myMISSION Young Professional Blog

Intentionally Following Christ

I’m a list-er. I have at least one list for every area of my life: work, home, personal development, and so on. These lists are constantly growing and changing as things are added and (hopefully) crossed off. If I don’t write something down, it may not get done.

Now as for my spiritual life: to list or not to list?

On one hand, reading my Bible, praying, and writing in my journal are a part of my (un-listed) nightly routine along with brushing my teeth.

On the other hand, it is challenging to fit times of silence, solitude, prayer, reflection, or other spiritual disciplines into my busy life, especially at work.

A busy workplace can also challenge the traits that are supposed to mark us as Christ followers, even when you love your job. Have you ever lost your patience in the office? Is it easy to be kind and gracious when a customer is being anything but?

Jesus said His followers would have to take up their crosses daily. Whether your spiritual life is part of your routine, an item on your list, or something in between: taking up your cross daily requires action. You can’t accidentally pick up a cross. You can’t accidentally follow Christ.

Break Time

Dragging my feet down the musty, fluorescent lit hallway, I walk outside for my 15-minute morning break. In these windows of freedom I always scramble out of my cubicle to the fresh air to remember the world outside of my enclosed cave I spend 7.5 hours a day in.

As I walk up the road, praising God the snow has melted and not too many cars are passing on the street for a moment of reprieve in the noise. I ask Him to bring joy to my heart for my work and pray over the day.

This sidewalk has heard so many of my prayers to God. When in a really difficult season this fall I wanted so badly to put in my two weeks’ notice and march right out the door to my other, better opportunities I convinced myself were out there. The pond and the trees heard me ask God if I could quit.

The answer?

“No.”

Because it wasn’t time. He had spoken that so clearly; I needed to stay here. He had called me to this moment in time for a reason. For the co-workers I share life with, for the conversations I have with people all over the world. His work was not done.

The Gospel and Cigarettes

Carrying coffee, my heart pounding out of my chest, I knew the conversation we were about to have. Discussing pleasantries of our week, we sat down on a bench in the park and watched the ocean.

Joy and I had been friends for a while, we met at a wedding and grew a friendship from there. She knew about my life and I had heard all about hers. Joy knew I was a Christian, but we had commonalities in our views of global politics and the beauty found in diversity.

As she lit her cigarette, I began to tell her how excited for Easter I was because it’s one of my favorite holidays. Having never really heard the meaning behind Easter, Joy asked me to explain more. With my heart fluttering, I sensed from the Holy Spirit this was the moment to share about Jesus.

The 8-5 Life and Missions

Step 1: God places a call on your heart to missions.

Step 2: You pray about this call and figure out how to do it.

Step 3: You board a plane to another country.

Step 4: You stay there as long as the Lord has you sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In a few steps, we define missions. It’s for the people who “heard a call” and then move to another country. For so long, I shared this definition and lived it. God laid nations on my heart, setting my sights on those places until I moved and lived there.

But, now? This definition has changed. I see missions not only as a step onto a plane, but as a lifestyle.

We love the Lord, with all our heart, soul, and mind, and we love our neighbor as ourselves.

We plant roots in our cities; we find work; we seek out the betterment of every person around us and share the love of Jesus everywhere we go. I don’t want to live a mission statement that takes me overseas for a season and then I move home and my time is up.

The Woman She Was Made to Be

As I hang up the phone, there is a yearning deep within my soul for more. More than this current pain, more than what life seems to be dealing to her. From the very beginning of our relationship, I have seen a strength in her. A strength willing to do anything for her family, willing to sacrifice herself for the needs of others, and can face countless circumstances that would break the will of many human beings.

She perseveres. She always has. In a season where money was tight, her father passed away unexpectedly, and she suffered a stroke. She carried on. Filled with grace to put one foot in front of the other. She continued living, continued listening to God, and continued loving the world around her. And now—the pain is loud.

The throbs of a broken heart echo in her voice, this pain is not foreign to her, she has felt it before, but this time it cuts deeper hitting her core. She thought this would be different, that he would be different. But countless lies later, here she stands—alone and fighting for hope.

The Man I Admire

Unlocking the door, I walk into my home after a long day at the office. The floors are swept, the house dusted, the dishes are clean and there he is—smiling, welcoming me home.

His acts are never done in order to be praised, he sees a need and he will work as long as it takes to complete it. Staying late at church he makes sure all the trash is picked up from the youth group. He is always the first to volunteer to carry in boxes, set something up, or volunteer for an event.

If I’m being honest, humility is not something I have consistently prayed after in my life. I’ve struggled with how it is embodied and wanted to learn how it plays out in day-to-day life—then I met my husband.

It is so not about him.

He will serve until everything is done. He doesn’t desire to be praised, it is simple for him; his desire is to live a life of excellence before the Lord, honoring Him in everything he does.

Where Is My Confidence?

Plopping down in the back row of my all-day training, I was planning on relaxing while listening to the day’s sessions. Taking notes, while making side comments to my neighbors, I didn't expect what was going to happen next.

A man I had never met before, who was taking a new position, came to introduce himself and share his testimony. After a few funny slides of his wife and children flashed on the screen, he had my attention. He shared his journey to faith and to ministry, and then he flashed an unexpected verse on the screen:

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jere. 17:7–8 NIV).

He began to dissect the verse, sharing with us how it mattered to his journey to live God's Kingdom out in His day to day life. His points passed through my ears, while my eyes welling with tears stared at the verse on the screen.

Unconditional

 One big slip.

That’s what I was always waiting for—that one moment when I would slip up and it would be too major for a recovery.

God would look down on me in disdain and walk out the door. 

Deep places within my heart have believed this for years. I always wondered if my tenacious heart would eventually exhaust God and He would call it quits.

I built cadences of work and production into my spirituality in order to prove to God my loyalty and hopefully earn His love.

I knew the gospel. I had heard it my entire life, but it took being transplanted to the Middle East to learn unconditional love.

I had lived my life under the “A student” mentality. Hard work eventually pays off and everything should or at least could receive a grade. 

Rules set before me from a young age became my benchmark for affection. I believed in the pit of my soul that love is only earned.

Until God took me to the end of my effort, to a distant land where I no longer knew the measures of success. He took me out of the realms of a grade to tell me He loved me. 

Unconditionally.

Enemy Feels Like a Strong Word

Love your enemy. A phrase heard so often in the church, yet one producing a wrestling match in our souls.

Who is our enemy?

And maybe we don’t use traditional words, like, “Oh, John Smith, he is my enemy.”

But it slips into our lives more subtly. The people who annoy us, so we dodge them when we pass them in the office hallway. Or the conversations you avoid because you are tired of the same conversation, where the same debate comes up—because you two will never see eye to eye.

Or sometimes it’s deeper. The people who have hurt us. Physically, emotionally, or spiritually. People who to society are justified in receiving our distrust and disengagement.

70 x 7 times. 

He had hurt me.

He had hurt people I loved.

And I felt justified in my anger, hurt, and frustration.

Until God told me it was time to start praying and let this go. It was time to loosen my rights and my view of justice and surrender it to the Almighty. 

Honestly, the prayers started out as “please fix him in this way” kind of prayers. You know the kind I am talking about . . . because you have probably prayed them before too.

Antonym of Sorrow

Hope.

In the midst of devastation, people are able to find hope—this is my life’s greatest challenge.

Living in West Africa in the second poorest country in the world for two summers, I observed the most beautiful smiles I had ever seen in the middle of devastating poverty. This joy felt impossible to wrap my head around.

Then I lived in the Middle East for two years, hearing stories of God’s Kingdom expanding throughout the lands. I saw a woman throw her head back in laughter—true joy—in the middle of her homeland being destroyed, when only hours before she recounted story after story to me about how her relatives were brutally murdered in the streets. 

How can this be?

The gospel is powerful. It’s not a story we get to share or we have to share. God has flipped our world’s story of brokenness on its head. When we think all is lost; it’s not.

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