It doesn’t take a large crew to make leave a big footprint.
Victory in God’s kingdom has always gone to the underdogs. God nearly always anoints a miniscule group to do his bidding. I find this encouraging since all that I have started has been small – usually for a long time if not forever. What God builds usually starts (and typically stays) on the smallish side.
I used to say that it started small but then would grow large, but now I see that often numbers usually only grow fat. I now see that it is almost always the case that a radical but small fringe gets the Kingdom lifestyle and message. Why does it stay small? It’s all about the offensive cost of mercy. Jesus said “Many are called but few are chosen” (Matt. 18). The context of that verse could well be restated, “Many are called but few choose” the Kingdom. The Kingdom, as God defines it, is always something that is set up according to his parameters, not ours. Most don’t like that much, so they protest, they decide it’s not for them, and vote themselves out of it like the religious people in Matthew chapter 18 (yes, it was the religious people who decided not to participate in the Kingdom once they figured out how the mercy of God works as in this story).
This Jesus story is fresh with me today. A few of us went out mixing it up with dozens of lost people who, like those in Nineveh, didn’t know their left hand from their right. We did a $1 carwash. We washed people’s cars and paid them a dollar for the privilege of serving them. We stunned many. Numbers teared up. We teared up! I’m always amazed what can happen when a few, enthused, dedicated people move in a common direction and pour their hearts into something. Do something great with God. It only takes a few.
Many years ago, a man intentionally invested in the lives of my family. Because he was such a living breathing portrait of Christ, our family could not help but be changed forever. He gave of himself in ways that many times no one else had a clue about. Countless phone calls, emails, and etc even after our family had moved away and were no longer under his seemingly direct care as our pastor. That’s how sold out he was to what he believed in and whom he believed in.
This past week, our church took 13 youth to camp. You might be thinking that does not sound like very many to you. In other context, I might tend to agree with you on that. But these were not just any 13 youth. They were youth that we have been exceedingly intentional on investing in. Youth that have cups with their name on it in our kitchen cabinet in our home because they have spent time in our home at our table. 13 may sound like an unlucky number to some as well. But considering it was almost double of what went last year, how could that possibly be bad?
We learned that the man unexpectedly to us went to Heaven on his 58th birthday while at camp. I must confess that I was shook hard. Not that I had left anything unsaid with him because that is far from the case. We did not hesitate in saying that we loved each other because of how tender & God-life giving the love was. I was shook hard because it reminded me yet again about his intentionality in our lives. How even though he did not know any of the youth that were with us personally – he was praying for them. How often do you pray for someone you do not even know just because they’re connected to someone you love relentlessly and are invested in?
When we’re truly living in a way that shows who is the real leader of our minds as well as hearts – we will have cups with people’s names on them that other people might just want to pass right on by even if they trip on their untied shoelaces in the process. When we take the time to remember that our lives are truly to be about and for God and not the capital “I” – we will be intentional on not only noticing others but being willing to bend down and tie their shoelaces. Even if doing so means bending down on the ground to reach it. For someone short like me – it’s not that far of a distance to reach the ground. But just that simple act of kindness can speak volumes.
Our lives are busy. I’m sure yours is no different. But what ways are you being intentional in living life with others? As a pastor’s family – we can use the excuse that our home should be totally off limits. We’ll just see them when at the physical church building when it’s time for “church.” As the current youth leader, I could pull the – “I’m with you on Wednesday & Thursday nights. That ought to be enough.” Sure Jesus went off to have time to get alone. We should too. But not at the expense of closing off that which God meant to be shared – everyday life and living. You hurt – I hurt too. You cry – I wipe your tears. That’s a radical kind of “I” because it goes against what Satan wants and points directly to God and His love. How busy are you again?
Summer is here. Just yesterday, it was 112 degrees. No denying how incredibly hot that is. You simply could not escape the heat. A simple thing like a cup of water or cool refreshing sweet ice tea does wonders on a hot summer day. How sweeter to have it in a cup with your very own name on it in someone’s home that loves you relentlessly? God loves us like that so much so that Jesus died on the cross with my name not only on Him but pouring out of His veins too.
Stop for just a moment and think about individuals who have been intentional in your life’s moments because of God’s love for them first and then theirs for you. Perhaps it was a pastor, youth leader, teacher or someone you went to school with? What would your life’s moments look like now if they had not invested intentionally in you? What if they had ran right on past you because they were too busy to notice you? Or they did not want to take the time because it was you?
May summer of 2011 be the time when God’s love is spread like a flowing spring of living water! You’re reading this! You’ve been prayed for! It was intentional.