Our third ministry finished yesterday. In many ways, it was a significant event and in others, it was just another day! It is easy to focus on the external ways that God was present: such as in November when we packaged 40,000 meals to send to at risk children in Sierra-Leone or our Easter Banquet in Occidental Square or in the Hoops of Hope outreach as we raised money for Sudanese orphans to go to boarding school, but the real significance in our growth as a faith family comes in our internal work as Jesus followers.
There is so much to celebrate for what God did amongst us and around us. We grew deep roots as we focused our discipleship learning to live as the Tree of Life. We learned to recognize God's voice in both Scripture and through Holy Spirit's communication to us. We learned to feed off the fertilizer of God's Word and the Living Water of the Spirit. We soaked in the sun of God's love for all of us. We let God prepare the soil of our lives so the seeds could take root and bear a harvest.
We grew deeper in our understanding and experience of learning to be the "Trunk" to one another as we supported one another through death's of parents, major life events, and relational challenges. We did it well at times; but other times we missed the mark. We are learning that it is hard work to be the "Trunk" to one another, it takes time, it is messy and it goes against our culture of instant gratification and moving on when things don't work out.
We are also learning what it means to be the branches and leaves where the birds comes and nest. Mark 4 says, "It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” When we move as the Tree of Life; we truly do become a place of safety and nurture for others around us.
When we move in our divine calling, doing the very things that God planned for us to do long ago, we are the ever expanding tree that others feel rest and refreshment when they are around us. It may be the small things of life that we offer; very often quiet and unnoticed, like the woman who works as an aide to the school, being the beacon of life on the playground.
Or, we may be the businessman who chooses to run his business with kingdom principles, making decisions that the world would say are foolish, but are changing lives both in the company and those they serve.
Or, we may be the man who responds to a call in the shower to go to India; inviting his daughter to go along and patiently waiting through all the worldly obstacles so the way is made clear to go to an unknown land.
It may be the teachers in South Korea who are going to be "missional light" both to the students they teach and to the friends they are encountering. They become family to one another as they are very far away from their own families.
It could be the family that is currently packing up all their worldly possessions, giving away, selling and storing some, so they can follow a call to move to Dubai where they will bring friendship to an international community of people who don't know Jesus.
It could be the women from Helena who have made the trek to Seattle two times this year to learn how to pray healing prayer for their faith and life community. It could be the team of 12 that came down for three weekend trainings from a community an hour and a half north of Seattle. It could be the 10 people who were commissioned as Healing Prayer Ministers who are courageously reaching out to pray for those that God is putting in their path; seeing such miracles as a woman who was a paraplegic now walking out of the hospital with a walker.
It could be the man who worked at Microsoft who made a major life decision to do a master's program in art, knowing that as he wrote his thesis around identity, that he would be touching a deep nerve in our lives.
It could be the woman that patiently reaches out week after week after week to a community of women that didn't know Jesus or how to follow him, but are now learning to be a powerful trunk to one another as they face major life challenges.
It could be the woman who works in a hospital and every day prays for God's love and power to be present in her to everyone whom she touches or treats.
It could be the Celebrate Recovery Team who have tirelessly ministered week after week for three years, bringing hope to those with hurts, habits and hangups. They model vulnerability and authenticity, creating a safe place for people to come and nest in their branches.
It could be the woman and her partner who are following in blind faith as they develop a conference for women that will help them to go deep in their identity as beloved children of God, and to bravely face their areas of darkness.
It could be my husband and I who have made the sacrificial decision to live in two different places during the week so that I can follow our missional call to lead Missio Lux.
The stories could go on and on. We don't have all the answers, but we are learning what the questions are and we are seeking to follow the One who does have the answers. We don't have a big splashly location, but are quietly day after day, going about the Master's business, quietly bringing light to where he directs us.
I celebrate this year and all the stories we have where God is inviting us into partnership with himself to help bring Kingdom from heaven to earth.
Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Your Name.
Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.