Monday, February 25, 2013

Disciple and be discipled.

I'm a planner.  Spontaneity tends to make my heart race and my palms sweat.  I like knowing exactly what is going to happen and when it is going to happen.

I also like to learn and prepare for things.  I like knowing as much as I possibly can about what I need to do because the perfectionist in me wants to do it as well as I possibly can.   And believe it or not, I don't often feel comfortable talking about a subject unless I feel like I know "enough" about it.  (But really, what is enough?)

And like most people, one of my personality traits tends to affect all areas of my life, so it shouldn't be surprising for me to say that this "I want to feel like I know what I'm talking about before I talk" feeling affects my spiritual life, as well.

Trust me, this rambling has a point.

I spent an hour on the phone with Taylor today.  It seems that my deepest writings always spring out of conversations with him, but hey, I think that's just part of the beauty of our friendship.  It's a safe place for the both of us to talk about God and our faith and our walks with Christ, and the freedom I feel whenever I talk to him is a blessing I don't take for granted.  I pray that every Christian has a friendship like this; we just instinctively get each other and where we are spiritually.

It started out that he was basically calling to check on me, but as a nice change from how the majority of our conversations go (haha), I ended up spending a good deal of time listening to things going on in his life.  He wanted my opinion on a specific situation he's dealing with, and before I spoke, I caught myself saying, "I'm not really sure what to say because I don't have any experience in this, but..."  After I told him my perspective on the situation, that statement I started out with led to a discussion on discipleship and qualifications.

One of the (many) things I've never doubted in my friendship with Taylor is how much he values my opinion and perspective.  I know that every time we speak, he truly cares about what I think and takes my words to heart.  He saw wisdom in me when I didn't see it in myself, and more importantly, he has played a huge role in helping me find the self-confidence that God has wanted me to have for so long.  Sometimes I get up in the comparison of it all, and I look at him or someone else and think that they're such "stronger" Christians than I am that I'm out of place trying to give them advice.

Here's the lesson I learned today, thanks to God speaking through Taylor:  God uses us, all of us, to help each other through this life.  One of Taylor's catch phrases of sorts is "Disciple and be discipled."  Discipleship is one job, the only job, that doesn't have a list of qualifications as requirements so you can "get the job."  Taylor and I are equals; I teach him, and he teaches me.  I can't wait to be good enough or knowledgeable enough before I help people, because I'm never going to get this just right.  As Taylor put it, "You have Scripture to back you up.  That's all that matters."  Talking it out reminded me of how I shared my story with Bruno the day I met the band, and how I learned from Callie eight months later the impact it had on all of them when Bruno talked about it in the van.  I was just beginning to ponder the idea of coming back to my faith at that point; if God could use me then to teach a lesson to people I saw from the beginning as spiritual "role models", who am I to say He can't use me now?

During the conversation, Taylor mentioned this passage:

The Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20: Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Jesus knew he couldn't save the entire world in His time on earth, so he turned to his disciples.  He didn't tell them, "Study the best possible way to reach people, then go tell them about me."  He didn't say, "I'm not sure if you can do this."  He didn't say, "You don't have the right skills, or enough skills, but you're the ones who have been with me, so I guess you'll do."  Instead, his command was very simple.  Go.

Go.  Right now.  Teach others what I have taught you.  I will give you the words you need.

This is such a testament to the unconditional love God holds for each of us.  He uses us in our brokenness and confusion and struggles and doubts to teach and help people, and usually without even realizing we're doing it.  That's how powerful He is.  Because, really, none of this was ever supposed to be about our capabilities, anyway.  It's about what He can do through us, and that, my friends, is anything.  Absolutely anything.

Don't let the fear of being out of line or wrong stop you from helping if you think you can.  With Scripture in your heart and Jesus in your mind and at your side, you can't go wrong.  Be a disciple to anyone and everyone, and that will give you the opportunity for other people to be a disciple to you.  Both are equally and vitally important.

Trust me, the idea of it used to terrify me, too, but there's something about seeing strangers visibly moved by what you have to say and hearing one of your best friends say, "The Lord was using you to speak to me," that makes you not afraid anymore.

When all else fails or the nerves seem too much, remember Philippians 4:13.  You can do anything through Christ who gives you strength.

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