When I first went to Budapest, Hungary, I had so many ideas of what a ‘missionary’ was suppose to look like… and I was going to be a great one! One day I was running through the streets, I had so much to do and I was in a hurry. I was ‘doing ministry’ after all! The streets were very wide and you did not cross them above ground; you had to go underground. I was hurrying from one side of the street to the other; down steps and up them, when I noticed a woman sitting on one of the steps with a bundle in her arms. The homeless people were everywhere and most of the time ignored. On this day I looked and then I looked again. She was looking right at me. I turned around and went back to her. She had tears running down her face. As I watched her, I sensed something deep inside… “What are you doing, running around like a crazy person ‘doing ministry?’ What about this lady and her child, right here in front of you?” I sat down beside her and asked if I could see her baby. She showed the child to me, beautiful, but crying. I looked in this woman’s face and I saw a person, a woman – a human being that God created and cared about. I asked her if I could buy her something to eat. She just stared at me crying. I told her I would be right back. I went to the top of the stairs where there was a McDonald’s and bought burgers, fries and drinks. I went back down the steps, sat beside the lady and her child and gave them the food.
I sat with her for a long time, drinking coffee. I knew I had learned something that day; I could run around all the time and think I was doing ‘God’s work’ but totally ignore what God was actually doing all around me; on the metro, tram, bus, in my apartment building or on the streets.
I was reminded of this story when I started my Master’s degree in Christian Formation and Discipleship. In our little cottage in England (which I love), there simply is not a quiet place for me to read, research, and write. I started thinking and praying about what to do. I knew the pub in the village was quaint, cozy and quiet during the day; it’s where the community gathers at different times throughout the day to talk, laugh and enjoy themselves.
So, I gathered up all I needed and went to my local pub. I found a place in a corner and set up my computer, books and papers. I sat and watched the servers, the people coming in and observed my surroundings. They were playing classical music, my favorite. I just sat for a long time and this was when the story above came to me. I had always had a certain idea of what a ‘pub’ was and judged on my assumptions. In the Southern part of the United States where I was from, visiting a pub (or a place where they served alcohol was not considered proper), but here in England I noticed the people talked so much more than I had noticed in my everyday travel; school, stores, buses, trains, etc. I saw people being real, open and sharing their struggles. It was very interesting and I knew that day I needed to be open to see what God was doing, right where I was in the center of the village I lived in.
Even when we did not know we needed God, or were not living the way He created us to live; He entered into our world. He came to us and met us. I have often wondered why Father, Son & Holy Spirit did not just throw us out and start again. I believe I would have. Yet, He valued us so much He came to us.
God entering into our world gives us a vision of how to be human. We must not make ourselves immune to the suffering and pain around us. We too must enter into lives; to live the life of Christ, as He entered into our world.
I remembered seeking God that day sitting in the pub asking “Is there something or someone here you want me to participate with you in their life; in this place where so many people gather? I can see some of them suffering, but they don’t know who you are or who they are?” I had the realization that if I was sitting in the pub, God was there and I could participate with Him through the unique way He created me in His mission.
We have in Jesus the designer’s blueprint for how human beings are meant to live. If our blueprint for what it is to be human is a person who entered into our world and entered into our suffering; then we must not detach ourselves from the world.
That day I knew this place was where God wanted me to enter into their world as God had entered into mine and thus transformed me. The lady and child in the story above (which had taken place 24 years earlier when I first moved to Europe and had big plans to change the world), needed something real, full of life; she needed a person. The transforming story of what God does in a human heart comes alive and the life-changing story will change lives. By sharing our lives, we are telling the story of Jesus.
“God’s method is always incarnational. He loves to take His truth and wrap it in a person.”
– Howard Hendricks
Listen to this song below, “He is Alive”. Look at the words. Ask yourself if you really believe He is alive. If so, what are the implications? Is He with you wherever you go? Is He wanting to participate with you in your own formation and in His mission in this world through the unique way He created you? Do you really know this deep in your being? If not, ask Him to make this real to you. He values you so much that He entered into the world right where you are.
Are you making any assumptions about places, things, or people? Do you have ideas of what you think ministry, evangelism, formation, or even being a Christian looks like? Are you open to God to show you something different? I had such a clear picture of what I was going to do for God when I went into missions, so much so that with my name being Teresa I was going to be Mother Teresa 2! Yes, a bit funny, but I was determined to ‘work hard for God’ to the point I was missing Him and what He was doing all around me.
Be still, quiet; can you be vulnerable, real and open to what God wants to say?
He is Alive by Becky Frith
(From the Album Incredible Grace, which can be bought from iTunes or www.beckyfrithmusic.com)
Son of God and Son of man
Divine and human
Word made flesh, Emmanuel
God is with us
Redeeming and making us new
He’s opened our eyes
He’s alive, He’s alive, He’s alive
Shout it from the rooftops
Everybody sing out
We’re alive, we’re alive, we’re alive
Living for His glory
We are His forever
Through our lives His love is shown
God’s great story
We are His, His breath in us
A new creation
“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.
”It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards. And the joy – the deepest, most fantastic joy of all – is that there is a ‘deeper magic’ available for all of us.”
Ch. 15: Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time