It’s time to start discipleships groups up again at my church. My church that was birthed with blood, sweat, and tears out of our living room. My church that was birthed out of mine and Ryan’s discipleship groups, God be praised! Being in a group of women in a discipling relationship – meaning even as the leader they disciple me too – has been transformative beyond words. And it’s how Jesus called us to live and walk.
I love my group – the groups I’ve had over the years…they change a little each year, because of God’s grace, a couple of women decide most years, “I’m ready – I want to give what we have away to more women and that means I leave this group and start a new one.”
I can share more about that if you’re interested; however, my main point of this post is to talk about something that happened as we lived life together.
We re-named our group “fight club”.
Because we, together, were fighting the powers of darkness and sin and shame and hiddenness.
We, together, were standing in the light.
We, together, were praying for and building each other up.
We, together, were fighting for the light to shine and go forth into the deepest crevices of our hearts and minds and in others too.
We, together, were speaking the truth of scripture into one another’s hearts and minds and stories even when it didn’t “feel good” in the moment.
We have scars.
We are healed and we are healing.
It’s good. It’s a good that isn’t a surface level good. A goodness that transcends into pain and hard and mystery. Good birthed out of something hard…the best kind of good.
So, as we start our groups up again this year, I’ve sent two beautiful women out and brought two new women in and kept four women the same. I’ve been contemplating the name of our group this year. We don’t have one yet, but I can sense that we’re close. Maybe we will call it fight club again. I do love my fight club – made up of more than just the women I meet with in my D-group, but because of my D-group, I am enabled to fight alongside others better…..in fact, because of our longing to love and live for Jesus and be loved by Jesus well, I get to invite others into the brokenness and mess and beauty of being a disciple wherever I go and with whoever I encounter – be it my 4 year old or otherwise, someone who isn’t yet a believer, or a good friend.
It frees me to trust more.
It frees me to be broken more.
Because, really, brokenness and repentance lead to revival.
The messy leads to the beautiful.
The brokenness lets God’s treasure shine through – for we have this treasure in jars of clay (2 For. 4:7) .
I love this quote from Roy Hession from the book, The Calvary Road (get and read it now if you haven’t. it is a gem. Also? His wife’s name is Revel which is ah-mazing.) ….
“Sin always involves us in being unreal, pretending, duplicity, window dressing, excusing ourselves and blaming others–and we can do all that as much by our silence as by saying or doing something. While we are in that condition of darkness, we cannot have true fellowship with our brother either–for we are not real with him, and no one can have fellowship with an unreal person. The only basis for real fellowship with God and man is to live out in the open with both. ‘But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another’….Love will flow from one to another, when each is prepared to be known as the repentant sinner he is at the cross of Jesus. When the barriers are down and the masks are off, God has a chance of making us really one” (Roy Hession)
At the foot of the cross, the barriers are broken, the chains are removed, and the masks are taken off. We are each known as a loved and repentant sinner. And we fight with our brothers and sisters, together.
Confess your sins to each other, and as you get honest about where you really are, others are freed to do the same, and you begin to fight the darkness together. (James 5:16 1 John 1:7)
It’s not easy, but it’s essential to abiding in Christ. You are united to Him as a believer, but you can know deeper communion with Him, and part of that involves community. Our sanctification is a community endeavor. Our sanctification is discipleship.
Bring it on!
As I get into the new school year, an analogy from Sandra McCracken has been sticking with me…I heard her speak and sing at our denomination’s national gathering this summer and have been pondering and expounding upon this example ever since.
I often say to other homeschool moms, and this truth goes for all humans, “stay in your lane” or “watch your end of the pool” or “stay on your yoga mat”. Sandra, however, eloquently used the analogy of a garden plot.
I like this because gardens grow and produce something…a lot of somethings! All different and equally necessary to life whether to bring beauty, health, or cleaner air.
We’ve got a garden plot – a time, a place, a spot, a calling – it’s very real and tangible, this spot where God has placed you at this moment in time. That garden plot looks different than my neighbors, or friends, or co-workers…growing different plants or crops, the size, shape, and growth is different. God is his daily new mercies is giving me a bucket filled to the brim to water MY garden plot. Just my spot – NOT the whole field. Not someone else’s garden plot. The raw materials are different, the fertilizer is different, because what God has called me to cultivate is a different fruit or vegetable or flower than the next person. (Side note: Am I saying not to help others? No! Of course not – that may be who God has given you to help grow for the day!)
Beautifully, we’re not robots! Thankfully, we’re not all growing cabbage! But, thankfully, someone is growing cabbage, right? And hopefully, that farmer is looking to what God has called them to do to grow and cultivate what He’s given to them.
My homeschooling/parenting example, which can be taken and shifted to your own calling is this: I didn’t choose my child’s gifting, strengths, or weaknesses, or learning style. I didn’t choose my family history or my own baggage or strengths and weakness and personality. I didn’t choose MS to be a factor in how I school and what I can physically do. And yet, it all plays a part in how I lead, love, and teach my unique kids with my unique self. And God gives grace, manna, for the day for this garden plot I’ve been given – not for someone else’s garden plot, and definitely not for the whole neighborhood’s gardens! Whew. But, I often forget, compare, and get distracted….
Gloria Furman, in writing about gifts, says this in her book, The Pastor’s Wife:
“Why did God gift us? How should we use our gifts?
‘As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…”by the strength God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen’ (1 Peter 4:10-11)
The first thing that stands out is that gifts are something we have received. Gifts are deliberately chosen by God and given by God, and our part is to receive. This is itself inspires enough courage to stop looking sideways at the gifts or other women (or men). Their gifts were not chosen by them anymore than your gifts were chosen by you. Regretting gifts, comparing gifts, and belittling gifts are an insult to the one who has given them.”
As a child of God, your gifts and your limitations, can give you more than they can take from you, because you are FILLED with the power of God in Christ – that same power that raised Jesus from the dead! (Eph. 1:19-23, Eph 3:14-21) Even our limitations are a gift from Him. (1 Cor. 15:10). Our boundaries have fallen in for us in pleasant places – the boundaries of our garden plots, our health, our gifts, our sin. I long to say this with David in Psalm 16,
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed I have a beautiful inheritance…Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.”
God is faithful and He will grow us and our garden plots in the perfect timing and season (Mark 4:27). His ways are higher and better than ours so we sometimes don’t see it when we think we should (Isaiah 55:8-9) . Grace upon glorious grace is available to us in Christ! (John 1:16)
Want to see more posts like this one? Here’s some of my favorites I’ve written about this:
planting seeds, burying treasure, and waiting…
grace for the day
you are here.