What Mission Means to Me
During our ministry planning process for the 2020 year, a teammate asked me, “What inspires you about our mission?”
It took me a while of mulling over every word and meaning within the mission (as is my tendency) before I realized the truth:
I am inspired by our mission because I am one of the people who needs to be reached by it.
Transformation – An Experience
The concept of transformation taking place through an intimate, deeper knowledge of God, Jesus, and myself did not become a reality for me until I was almost twenty-five years old. On the heels of a few very turbulent months, two men walked into my life and, utterly unbeknownst to them at the time I’m sure, kicked off the mission in me—an understanding of purpose through experiencing Jesus in powerful new ways; something that I, despite half a decade as an earnest and honest believer, had not experienced in all that time.
That was big lesson number one: this mission is not merely to bring people to salvation. You can live your whole life believing there’s a God and never actually have a deeply transformative relationship with Him, or His Son, or your family or the Body of Christ.
It’s so much bigger than that, and so much truer to the commission of making disciples of all nations.
So, back to the example of my own life. At twenty-five, in the beginning of 2018, I became acquainted with a sense of purpose: that was the beginning of transformation for me. Until then I’d been using my gifts and talents, especially in writing, (I thought) for myself; I figured God didn’t care much what I was writing as long as I wasn’t being blasphemous, He cared about the work I was doing on the clock as an employee for a Christian ministry. I had drawn a pretty clear distinction between the work I did for God (my job in ministry) and the books I wrote (for myself and a few friends who read them). All the walls between came crashing down when I began to realize how the passion that sets your soul on fire is often the mission field God has called you to serve in.
For the very first time, I saw my writing was a calling—and that God more than cared, He wanted to help me succeed in it so I could carry out the calling He’d given me. Words cannot describe how transformative that was. Suddenly I saw that my writing was not getting in the way of serving God, or vice-versa—the two were inextricably linked.
The second transformation came after a turbulent summer in 2018, when all my understanding of purpose and calling and transformation from earlier that year ground to a dead halt; after months of depression, anxiety, and the worst writer’s block of my life, I somehow needed to pull myself together enough to teach main stage at an event—something I’d never done before outside of a few women’s retreats in friends’ living rooms where I shook and stammered my way through a less-than-memorable delivery both times. Nevertheless, I cobbled together odds and ends I’d been learning from Lisa Bevere’s books during my summertime depression-battle and prepared to give a rousing speech on picking up our swords and following Christ.
Exactly one whole day before Go Time, God told me I wasn’t going to teach that. He had something else His people needed to hear.
Here’s the kicker: in twenty-five years, I’d never heard God speak so clearly to me.
It wasn’t an audible, out-loud voice. It was a conviction so strong I KNEW it was His spirit dancing with mine, and I was only able to know it because I’d grown attuned to hearing that voice and feeling that nudge within me when I was writing precisely the things He wanted me to write—something He’d taught me to be mindful of just that spring.
All right, God. Attention thoroughly grabbed.
Over the ensuing two hours (which required playing total hooky from small group time), I paced the foyer of the meeting space, sat at a table, moved to a chair, paced some more and listened and cried. A LOT. More than once I ended up on my knees while the words and aspects of the exact message God wanted me to share poured through my fingertips and onto the page like the most inspired novel ever penned. His guiding led me to verses and online articles and back and forth across my own mind; it was, without a doubt, something I would call an encounter with my Maker. It was not merely a knowledge of His existence, but an experience of His presence. It was not cold and distant, but relational; when confusion would strike me as to why I needed to share something, or what should come next, a further nudge pointed me straight in the direction of the next piece.
For two hours, God and I put together the puzzle that became my main stage teaching—and when it came time to deliver it, my hands did not tremble, my voice did not shake. The words flowed like they had when I first received them from Him. Even writing about it now, tears form in my eyes; a door to my very core flew wide during those two days, and has not shut between God and me since.
What is a transformative relationship with God? To me, it’s being at the cusp of a panic attack, standing under the lights in a corner of Disney World and hearing Him tell me I gave you stories to remember there is always something good in this world. It is having the right words to say to someone you’ve never met that helps them start on the journey to experiencing relationship with Him. It is learning to heed the nudge, the whisper, the still small voice—and realizing that in His perfect love and wisdom, when we walk in His will, he always provides.
I have had the privilege of experiencing just the very beginnings of what that transformative relationship can do, knowing there is still so much more to come—and that’s what excites me about our mission. I can help others experience that, too.
That’s the thing that keeps me going whenever the task seems too difficult; the part that inspires me when the uphill battle of sharing the redemptive, transformative love of God with people in this fallen world becomes too much. It’s that chance that they, too, can sit in a hallway and cry for two hours because they do not just “know about Him” anymore – they hear Him speaking to them in the way only He can, because He knows them like no one else does.
What inspires me about this mission is that it is not a new one. Oh, not at all. God has been at this very same mission for thousands of years. I know it because two men walked into my life already living it, and kicked off the mission in me.
So now it’s my turn.