Go, Jesus said. Go into all the world and make disciples baptizing them in my name… Go. And be prepared to give up everything. Leave behind everything.
Did I think he was exaggerating? Or that he didn’t mean me?
God has called Larry and me to Mercy Road Church.
It all started with Men’s Fraternity. Larry listened. And he talked to the other guys on Tuesday mornings for three years. And he started thinking about his life. His life divided up in thirds.
The first third, he didn’t even know Jesus.
The second third, he poured himself into our family, raising our kids.
And now he is on the threshold of what, God willing, would be one third more of life.
He started hearing voices. Well, not plural really. He began to hear the quiet voice of God.
And he began to get a picture of what this final third of life could look like. How it could be spent in ways that would yield eternal fruit. And we started talking. And it was exciting. God had plans. But they weren’t going to start right away, because our kids were not fully on their own yet. But soon. Very soon.
And Grace planted Mercy Road. And we were excited! Great! Redford needs this! Yes!
We will help as much as we can, but of course we won’t leave Grace.
So there is Larry, serving part time at Mercy Road and part time at Grace. And there am I serving overtime at Grace.
And Larry wants to worship together again. But he misses Mercy Road when he’s not there. So maybe he’ll keep his fingers in the Mercy Road pie and Grace too.
And then God says, Son, I need you to be “all in” somewhere.
And Larry looks at me and thinks, well, then it’s Grace of course.
And God says, You are so excited to go on mission in the future and willing to go to far away places, but you can’t even go on mission right now in your backyard. Does this make sense son? I’ve been calling you.
I’ve been ignoring you Lord. My wife is very committed at Grace.
And so Larry comes to me and says, for your sake I would stay at Grace. And we realize he has been Jonah, ignoring God for many months for my sake.
How absolutely ridiculous are we?
That God has called us to Mercy Road did not come as a big surprise to our kids, “Isn’t that what Doug has been preaching for years? Go into your neighborhoods with the gospel.”
But it was a surprise to me. The bigger surprise, however, has been my emotional reaction.
I didn’t want to leave Grace.
For Pete’s sake, I’m not being asked to go to another country, or serve in a foreign culture, where I don’t know the language.
I’m being asked to go to my hometown.
How selfish am I?
Jesus wants Larry and I to take the good news of salvation in Jesus to the people in our neighborhood whom we have known for years. Jesus wants us to work in Redford alongside other believers we have known for years.
This is a big hardship, eh?
We’re talking the lost here.
I’m not really all that hyped up to reach them am I?
Did I think I was?
This is absolutely nuts.
I don’t know if I can communicate how disappointed I am in myself for feeling this way.
I have been writing blogs for Graceworks for several years now. I read back over them all recently.
I know I have enjoyed a rather small readership. And from those who have read my blogs, I haven’t had much feedback. Sometimes I wondered if anyone was paying attention.
Re reading the blogs I get the distinct impression that God has been wondering the same thing. About me.
All these great little bits of truth and pieces of the picture he has given me over the years and I think he’s wondering, Robin, were you paying attention?
Not as much as I thought, I guess.
I’m embarrassed by how I feel. But there it is. I have cried. I have grieved. I felt like my whole life was being turned upside down and ripped apart. And I didn’t know what would be left.
So, now, after a couple of months, what is left?
The truth that apart from Jesus I am not a “nice person who occasionally does bad things”. Apart from Jesus I am a selfish person who occasionally does good things and is darn proud of them.
What is left is the gospel. The truth that I am completely corrupt and owe God a debt I cannot pay. Jesus paid it for me. And having received his righteousness, his life, I am being transformed. And while that transformation takes place I will take the gospel to Redford. I will do that because Jesus lives in me, not because I am anything at all. I’m not. I proved that pretty well these past few months. I hope I will remember, but I will probably forget again, that the truth I share about Jesus is the truth I need, every day.
Thank God he is willing to remind me.