The women who’ve helped me love Jesus more, a #WCW post inspired by the IF: Gathering

I didn’t have time last week to get out a #WCW post.  (See all the others here) I had planned initially to spend last week’s #WCW on the IF: Gathering team. The IF:Gathering is an event/movement that has really influenced my spiritual journey for the past couple of years. I admire the whole team and I think I will at some point write more about them and how their obedience to God has shifted much in my own life.

But for today – I’m shifting the focus a bit. You see, at this year’s gathering, discipleship was a huge focus. And by discipleship, I refer mainly to this process  – show people how to love Jesus more so they’ll love Jesus more and teach others to love Jesus more and on and on. We were encouraged at the end of the weekend to use a tile and write some names on it. On the back side of the tile we were supposed to write the names of people who had helped us love Jesus more. On the front side we were supposed to write down names of people we wanted to mentor/disciple/teach to love Jesus more.

So, I wrote down a few names, and today I’d like to tell you about them. All of these women probably deserve their own #WCW post; and that will probably happen too one of these days. For now – the small highlights of a long journey of faith.

My mom – Brenda Burns

My mom has been showing me how to love Jesus since the beginning. There are numerous stories to share of her faithfulness, but one conversation sticks out to me. I was in a frustrating season of not knowing what I wanted to do when I grew up (even though I was kinda already grown up, having been married for about 6 years and having two small children…) I asked her – do you ever feel like you’re there? Like you’re doing that thing you’re supposed to be doing for forever? And she surprised me by saying, “No!” But she didn’t stop there – she explained how she’d learned what a gift God has given us as women and mothers to continually be able to change our goals due to the very practical and logistical realities that we have in our lives as moms of young children. Her saying that and me remembering all the twists and turns her life had taken showed me what it means to trust God with it all.  She also showed us that loving Jesus is FUN – I have so many fond memories of being silly while singing songs about Jesus, or giggling at the funny pronunciations of hard to say Bible names or scripture verses. She made it clear that loving Jesus wasn’t restricted to formal sitting in the pew times, but that it infected every part of her life.

Laura Belcher – College IV staff

Laura was my InterVarsity staff worker while I was in college. We had some very fun and sweet times together. One particular time stands out.  In the spring of my last year, it was time for us as the IV student leadership team to meet together and pray about the next year’s team.  This process was very very tough on me. Most of the people involved in the application process were my closest friends and while no one was maligned or disparaged in any way, we did have difficult conversations about their weaknesses and strengths. After that very intense day, I just could not go back to my dorm room. So, even though Laura had had a long day herself hosting 6 college students in her home all day, she drove me to blockbuster (yes.) and we rented a Disney movie. Because sometimes what you need is a fun movie and yummy popcorn to know that Jesus loves you! Thank you Laura for being there for me!

Danine Klinner

Danine showed up in my life shortly after my husband and I moved to Germany. Danine showed me the real meaning of hospitality and real friendship. She let me in to her life and showed up for me and Tom in such a deep way. She was there for me when I had my first baby and again when I had my second baby. She was the big sister I never had growing up and sometimes a surrogate mom while I was on the other side of the world from my own.  She’s the one who told me everything would be fine when I was first-time mothering and freaking out about everything Becca did (or didn’t do).  She showed me that loving Jesus meant giving generously without ever asking for anything in return. It meant showing up, even if you didn’t have anything but your presence to offer. It meant never leaving someone to go it alone even if they pretended everything was ok. Danine, your love for Jesus has had so many ripples in my family. Thank you.

These women (and many others too) have had a dramatic impact on my life and the way I follow Jesus and I’m so, so thankful.

 

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Jesus as bridegroom?

I’ve been doing a Bible Study on Revelation since the fall. This week we were asked to think about some of the ways Jesus is described in the passages and discuss which one appeals to us more. The images we were to choose from were Jesus as the Bridegroom and Jesus as Warrior King.
As I pondered both these images, I realized I actually couldn’t really picture or identify with Jesus as Bridegroom. There is plenty of imagery in the gospels describing Jesus as such – in John 14 when he tells the disciples that He’s going to prepare a place for them, in many parables about the kingdom of God for example. Paul uses the analogy of marriage quite often to describe the relationship between Christ and his church. And then in Revelation we read how the Apostle John has visions of a great wedding banquet – the feast prepared for the church by the Bridegroom. Given my familiarity with all this imagery, I was surprised that I did not identify very much with he Bridegroom. I wondered why that was. Then I realized that in our day, the groom is very often seen as secondary in importance (if even thought of at all!) in preparations for weddings. I remember distinctly (even though it’s been a while…) people talking about our wedding in terms of “my day” or to make sure that I got what I want because the “Bride is always right!” Our culture of weddings and marriage is almost completely opposite of what it was in Bible times. We have somehow relegated the grooms to the bumbling side – spending so much of our preparation for marriage on things like table settings, color coordinated attendants’ outfits, flowers, decorations, THE DRESS, that we neglect some of the most important parts of marriage preparation. Even when the bride and groom wish to live a Christ-centered life and strive to not put too much financial pressures on themselves with a huge, expensive wedding, they are still so swamped with wedding details that it seems hard to find time to do pre-marital counseling, or to spend time discussing the future beyond the honeymoon.

In my own wedding preparations, I did try to push back on the idea that it was “my day” and include my now-husband in the planning. But still, because of events outside our control, most of the wedding preparations and details were handled by me not him. His main role was to buy the honeymoon tickets, pack his bag, and meet me at the church on time. His schedule was dictated by me, not the other way around.

I think this reality makes it hard to identify with Jesus as the groom. Even when the husband is not the caricatured variety that culture so often puts in front of us, we have very little real life experience with a groom as described in scripture.

I don’t mean to suggest in any of this that our husbands and boyfriends have done something wrong or that we’re doing it wrong really. It’s just an interesting change in culture that makes relating to this particular scriptural analogy difficult for me. Like every analogy that scripture gives us to help us understand more about God’s nature, the one of bridegroom can fall short, not because of a lack on God’s part, but because our own human experience is limited. I shared this thought with my bible study leader and she shared with me how this picture of Jesus as Bridegroom was actually very powerful for her because of her experiences. I’m grateful that God has given us so many glimpses of Himself in scripture – little pictures that mirror in some way our experiences here on earth – so that we can begin to comprehend truth about Him. I’m also grateful to have fellowship with other believers, who expand my understanding of God when they share their perspective of scriptural images through the lens of their own experience. What a blessing!

As for me and my husband, he did “go and prepare a place for me” in that I did not see our first apartment until we actually moved in. This was mainly due to our long distance relationship, which I would not wish on anyone! 🙂 It’s a sweet thing to think about him going to look at apartments and visualizing our new life together. When I picture him doing that, I can picture my savior now preparing a place for his followers, finding delight in how we will spend eternity together.