How we share our pain and struggles and invest in other, could lead to the development of a disciple of Jesus.
There is a grand difference between believing in God and knowing Him, I mean really trusting Him such that you put the weight of your emotions and decisions and desires and dreams upon Him on a daily basis. I began to discover this reality my sophomore year of high school; a freshly torn ACL left me reeling and wondering about my identity, as much of my worth came from being a soccer player. While I grew up in a home where we went to church, and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in God, I had few friends that shared my beliefs with me and my injury caused me to be tossed in the waves of fear and grief. This season became one of those I would never want to go through again, but would never take back. I describe it as an “anchor moment” in my life – one of those times when I was grounded in my faith as a result of Jesus proving that He really is secure and strong and full of hope in the midst of my storm.
“That hope is real and true, an anchor to steady our restless souls, a hope that leads us back behind the curtain to where God is.” – Hebrews 6:19 (The Voice)
From my limited knowledge of boating, I began thinking about this idea of anchoring. What does it mean to be anchored? Grounded? Secured in place? What has anchored me in my life, causing me to be still, to experience security, peace, a sense of God’s presence with me?
I have “dropped anchor” at times out of exhaustion, from just running too fast and using all my resources and needing to replenish. I have dropped anchor because the scenery was so beautiful I just wanted to stay in a place for a time and soak it in. But let’s be honest, the times I need that anchor most were because the waves were high and weather was uncertain, and a storm hit. Oh, I have hit storms in my life. They were the seasons when I dropped anchor out of necessity, out of a deep need to know where the bottom was and to have a connection to something firm when everything else I thought was firm was tossed up and away in the waves.
The first storm I can remember arrived that summer I tore my ACL. My worth was found in being an accomplished athlete and as a result, my identity was tossed into the wind. Still on crutches, fresh out of surgery with 9 months before me of rebuilding body and heart, the Lord sent me a line… a line connected to Him. Her name was Susan and she became my Young Life leader, mentor, and treasured friend. Do you know that we sometimes serve others as the line connecting to the anchor? This bright- eyed, faith-filled woman served as a link in the chain, filling the gap until I grew my own unique connection to Jesus.
She was bright eyed and hopeful, met me for coffee, pursued me, opened a Bible with me and helped me learn that Scripture really was like living water (and not like the dry sand I had experienced it to be!) We met throughout high school, she sent me a card or two in college while I was across the nation and during which many other mentors and teachers took me in and encouraged me in my faith. And then when I returned home upon graduation, she invited me to come to her home every Tuesday morning before I went to work. She would make oatmeal or banana bread and would fend off small children with cartoons and cereal while she gave me her full attention for that 45 minutes. She shared honestly with me about her faith, about what God was teaching her, about struggles in marriage and parenting; she shared vulnerably as she walked through a miscarriage, but mostly she listened intently and encouraged me with hope as I processed my first jobs, dating a man that would become my husband, taught me how to build a budget, and continued to lace every topic we discussed with the truth of Jesus.
Her time with me was invaluable. Her demonstration of the fact that she could walk with me not only as a young woman, vibrant and working with no kids when I was in high school, but then would be willing to juggle kiddos and life and still invite me into her world and make space in the chaos for me in my early 20’s is the very thing that set me up to recognize:
My calling to be a disciple of Christ and to make disciples does not change in ANY season. Sure, the circumstances, the scenery, the amount of interruptions might change, but the invitation from God to be and make disciples is full of life and adventure and will LAST.
Susan is only one of the many who strengthened my connection to the anchor of my soul. SO MANY have discipled me – whether in one transformative conversation, during a season of friendship, or over years of investment. To BE a disciple is to MAKE disciples. If we are following Jesus and living our lives authentically and vulnerably, then people will not be able to help but see Jesus and be compelled by Him! And note that I did not say, “living our lives perfectly”. The most encouraging people to me are those who reveal the storms, the difficulty, the missteps of their lives and acknowledge God’s presence and faithfulness and restorative touch in the midst of the pain.
It has occurred to me that we drop anchor not only when the waves threaten, but conversely it is when we find ourselves in places of such beauty and peace we just want to remain there to be secure and firm in the picture of how things should be. You know those moments in life that you take a snapshot and feel as if this just might be a taste of how God intended this place to be? As if you had a more clear sense of WHO He is and WHO you are? Those times are when I have had to pause and give attention and gratitude to let the truth of God be sealed in me. When the storms break and the sun is out, I have learned to seek out mentors and friends to share and soak in the truth of God, because all of life is transition, and another storm is surely coming.
Over time, I have come to see that what I know is true in the sunshine has to be hammered out in the storm.
What I have experienced in the light is STILL true in the dark.
And I desperately need people around me, older, younger, further along and trailing behind, that will spur me on and remind me of what is true and be the accountability for me to not go backwards.
“Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
There have been seasons of sunshine – relationships and marriage and children and ministry – where I have become changed, bronzed in the glimmer of the gloriousness of God. But you know those same things… relationships and marriage and children and ministry have offered storms that have tested and deepened my trust in Jesus, in the anchor who is never changing and always faithful.
Jesus – the anchor who is never changing and always faithful.
I have ruptured my achilles tendon, endured a miscarriage, birthed a sweet boy we were told would have uncontrollable seizures by the time he was one. We have experienced personal failure and loss; we have left our jobs with nothing on the other side and moved our family to the heart of a crazy college town and started over.
Yet, in that chaos and in those waves, I have simultaneously been bolstered by the presence of Jesus, by His comfort and His love and His care and His people.
Women and men, older and younger, in varying stages of faith, have discipled me through it all. And here I am married to a tall drink of water, with four little boys from 10-2, living in a college town, sharing our home with two young women that we get to love and invest in daily, writing and speaking to women of all ages, partnering with my husband in ministry to raise up leaders in the next generation, giving my life away to discipleship as I juggle kids and oatmeal and cartoons and I could not LOVE the life God has invited me into any more.
His word is alive and his promises are true. I love him and I trust him with my life. And I could not be more grateful to those who have gone before me who lived courageously as disciples and invited me into their journey. They fed me until I knew how to feed myself. It is their pattern that has shaped me and given my life wings.
”The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.”
– Isaiah 50:4