For the last several weeks, I've been on a journey. A journey to spend more of my time just being with Jesus. You see I am a program junkie. I've spent years church building; going to church, getting people to come to church, trying to get people excited about the latest program or campaign, sometimes I've felt like more of a marketing director than a minister. It's not that those things were bad they weren't... but what I came to realize that I had forgotten to be with Jesus more than I work for Jesus. So I have spent almost two years rethinking what I do and why. I'm learning to Follow Jesus with all my heart, do my best with the work he gives me and then trust the outcomes to him.
Over the last few months I've followed Jesus into what we call the Carport. A gathering of believers who meets Sunday mornings in a parking lot under a tattered tin carport behind a motel. I never thought of looking for Jesus and his Kingdom in a parking lot and yet he shows up week after week in grace, love, and truth. He shows up in the beautiful faces and hearts of those who have been serving there for years and in the locals who serve week after week anonymously. No huge platform, no fall campaign, not even a bulletin... and yet here the Kingdom is on the move and lives and hearts are being changed. I've found more joy, more hope, more abundant life, and more of the Spirit at work in these gatherings than I could have ever imagined.
Just last week instead of sticking next to the clothing ministry I, for the first time, sat down to have breakfast. I ended up across from a cross dresser, next to a mobile homeless man and near our resident Navy Seal/Doctor - a sweet, confused, loving lady.
As I looked at my fellow guests I was overwhelmed with this truth - This is what it looked like to attend a meal with Jesus! There was a sense of genuine joy and community. What once would have been extremely uncomfortable now gave me an incredible sense of peace. The truth of living in the Kingdom and being with Jesus in what locals call 'hotel hell' washed over me.
I have had more faith building experiences, seen Jesus show up more, and grown more in the last 20 months with all of my friends from the Following and especially the last two months going to a motel carport than I have in years. I am getting it - finally. After spending months detoxing from my kingdom expansion plans, I am understanding the true meaning of losing my life to find it. I am learning to just be...
...just be observant as I watch to see where Jesus is working
...just be available to show and give love to anyone Jesus puts in front of me
...just be a servant and not need to be the leader
...just be interruptible
...just be willing to let go of my plans and my kingdom to participate fully in His
Learning to follow Jesus.
"Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, 'This man welcomes sinners and eats with them'." (Lk 15)