By Lisa Littlewood
Several months ago I arrived at church, pulled out my program and read the name of that week’s speaker with the words “Missionary to Africa” written next to his name.
I won’t lie, part of me wanted to get up and walk out. I know, I’m a Christian; I’m not supposed to admit that.
Do you ever feel that way? Like you know you should be able to listen to a sermon about the needs of the world, but you’re not sure you can. That the ever present needs of your own family and life seem so pressing that you’re not sure you want an added measure of guilt. Guilt that part of your responsibility as a Christian might be to tread through the woods of a remote jungle and preach the gospel.
Thankfully, that pastor cut me a little slack. His message was something I was not expecting and it was something that changed the way I view my life as a ‘missionary’—how I view my responsibility to reach out to others.
In summary he said, “I’m not going to tell you that you need to go to Africa, or another foreign country to preach the gospel. Not everyone is called to do that. I’m going to tell you that God has placed us each on this planet with a particular sphere of influence, with eyes to see the world in front of us. Who is in front of your eyes? Your neighbors, the inner city poor, a colleague at work, a member of your own family?”
Hmmm. That hit home. Literally.
We had recently moved to a new neighborhood: a neighborhood in which not one person had stopped by to say “hello” or drop off a plant or a plate of cookies. At first I felt jilted, then God started to change my heart.
What was going on in their homes? In their lives?
My heart was moved.
Not to hop on a flight to Africa, but to find a way to reach out to my neighbors; to be a light in their lives, to love them in some way.
“A new command I give you,” Jesus says, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:34-35).”
As I thought about this verse I realized that people don’t often understand God’s love through our words (though that can happen), it is often our actions, our “love” that catches their attention.
Recently, I put my excuses (a messy house and busy toddlers) on pause and my thoughts into action. I invited two families new to the neighborhood, a single mom (and widow) from across the street, and another family we had become friends with, over for dessert. It was a wonderful evening and I feel as if we made the first move towards connection with them.
More importantly, I feel as if I finally made the first step towards reaching those God has placed in front of my eyes, within my sphere, and I’m praying that God keeps my eyes and heart open towards those He wants me to love.
Lisa Littlewood is the busy mother of two pre-school age children who loves to run, write and read. Her active pursuits to blend her God-given passions (namely writing and encouraging other women) into her messy mothering days inspire many of her blog entries at www.littlewritermomma.blogspot.com.