The bulge in my belly bore the evidence of how my life was about to change.
As a young mother-to-be, I was in process of learning how to play house like a grown-up. Grocery shopping on a budget, bargain hunting for baby items and trying my hand at all kinds of sewing projects.
With my baby’s due date right around the corner, I didn’t need to add anything else to my plate.
I, already, checked many of the church ministry boxes ::
I was attending a small group with my husband.
I was volunteering at the local crisis pregnancy center.
I was leading a college women’s bible study in my home.
Check. Check. Check. Discipleship done. Right?
But God challenged me to look beyond my checked boxes.
Teaching me the truth, that the Holy Spirit is not like the cafeteria lunch lady, dishing out more or less. The Holy Spirit moves freely like the wind, whenever and wherever He wants. I can either choose to shield myself from the wind, or catch the wind and take flight.
Letting the Spirit lead in discipleship is like breathing in and out. Moment by moment trusting in Him, leaning into Him for life –
for the right words to say,
for the right Scriptures to share,
for the right prayers to pray
and to know when it’s right to simply listen.
Letting God lead me to the people and places He wants me to go.
Discipleship happens when I let the Holy Spirit lead me beyond box checking and plate filling.
I ignored the nudge of the Holy Spirit that first Sunday Aimee sat in front of me at church.
Shielding myself from the wind.
Pulling out my list from my proverbial pocket, I showed God my self-proclaimed gold star.
But Aimee sat in the pew in front of me that next Sunday
and the next
and the next.
The wind kept blowing until I chose to catch it – taking flight.
But it wasn’t a smooth take off. Or some magical moment. That first conversation was AWK-ward.
I, finally, conjured up the courage to introduce myself to Aimee but she must’ve had somewhere to be – because she bolted for the door. Literally, I had to track her down in the parking lot. I felt a little bit like a stalker. I still remember thinking, “Really, God – is this necessary?”
After awkwardly introducing myself in the church parking lot, I asked Aimee if she would want to grab coffee sometime.
Little did I know, she was craving community so she was thrilled by the invite. We made plans to meet up.
If you could press fast forward and see an overview of the past 10+ years of our friendship, stopping at the highlights along the way, you would see how the Lord used an awkward beginning of discipleship to enrich both of our lives.
And it doesn’t stop there – our marriages, our children and our places of ministries have all been impacted because the Holy Spirit lead me to chase Aimee down in the church parking lot that day.
Tethered to the Word
A decade ago, Aimee was fresh off the college boat and I was ripening for motherhood.
Discipleship looked a lot like friendship with a healthy portion of intentionality. I simply came alongside her during a season that was full of transition.
We met on a regular basis, usually at coffee shop and I mostly listened. I got to act as sounding board, offering advice when she wanted it – but mostly I prayed with her and encouraged her with the very same Scriptures God was using in my own life at the time.
That’s one of the sweetest gifts of being tethered to God’s Word. When I’m rooted in the Word, God doesn’t just use it for me – He allows me to give it away to others. He usually works in my heart first and then He’ll somehow weave it into a conversation, allowing me to naturally share that passage of Scripture that pierced my own heart with someone else.
God’s Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). Whenever I read the Bible, He is always teaching me something new while actively working in my life and in the lives of others around me. The Holy Spirit is one who connects the dots, it’s not by chance and it’s not a coincidence. It’s the Holy Spirit.
With a newborn strapped to me in a sling, my husband and I attended Aimee and G’Joe’s wedding.
G’Joe is a good bit older, closer to my husband’s age, and he has become one my husband’s most trusted friends.
Just a year after their wedding they had their own newborn. Our sons, being just a year apart in age, are kindred spirits to the core. We may live on opposite sides of the country now – but we feel deeply connected as families and friends.
What if I had continued to show God my check list?
What if I had continued complaining about my full plate?
Friend, I’m the one who would’ve been on the losing end.
We think discipleship is about the other person. But what if deep down it’s really about Us?
About us abiding in the Spirit.
About Him changing us.
About us being more fully surrendered.
What if discipleship means throwing our check lists out the window and smashing our plates on the floor?
While saying, “God, take ALL of Me.”
Not just my check list.
Not just my offering plate.
Take my WHOLE life and make it Yours.
But it is the Spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. Job 32:8
*Join me next time when we’ll talk about the Power of Prayer in the context of discipleship.
Go back and read the previous posts in this series:
*My friend Aimee is a beautiful writer. She writes regularly on her blog – be sure to check it out!