I felt the joy of accomplishment.
I made it to Costco.
Laura was only 2 weeks old. I was cleared to drive. And it was my first outing by myself as a new mama.
My plan was to leave her in the infant carrier in the cart, so I'd have my hands free to pick up the groceries we needed. I was smiling in the joy of new-mama-figuring-things-out success...
But then I tried to get the infant carrier out of the carseat base and no matter which way or how hard I pulled and tugged, it wouldn't budge. I went around to the other side of the car and tried from a different angle. No movement. I jiggled and pushed buttons and tried to hold in buttons while pulling on the handle, but-- nothing. So eventually, with hormonally-escalated-tears, I got back in the car and drove back home.
I believe we are all missionaries.
Meaning-- we are ambassadors for Christ in whatever realm He has placed us.
I absolutely believe this and most of the time, it excites me and encourages me and gives added purpose and meaning to the moment by moment interactions and encounters that God brings to my days.
But there are certain seasons of life when hearing the reminder that we all are missionaries can feel overwhelming. Especially when, with small children, it feels nearly impossible to even just make it out the door. But God knows each one of us, our weaknesses and strengths and our particular season of life and He provides ways for us to live as lights for Him regardless of the particulars.
Five Ways We Can Be a Missionary Without Going Very Far:
1. Pray for God to give us opportunities.
We can start each day by asking God to make us aware of the people He wants us to talk with, share with, reach out to, and love. We can ask Him to help us see the opportunities that He places in our paths.
2. We can encourage even from a distance.
If our church has a prayer email that goes out, we can take time to read it and pray. We can write letters of encouragement to people we know are struggling, are sick or who just need a note of kindness. We can use online resources like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to share what God is teaching us or to build up others.
3. We can look purposefully at daily encounters.
Whether it's a trip to the market, a walk to the playground, a sports field sideline, a bedtime prayer with a child, or waiting in line at the post office, we can listen for God's nudge to share about Him and show His kind of kindness and love.
4. We can reach out in our particular neighborhood.
It is so easy to simply drive the car in the driveway, shut the garage door, and never really have contact with our actual, literal neighbors. If we are willing to take the first step to reach out and build connections with the people next door, God may provide opportunities to share the gospel. We can look for needs-- a new baby, a yard in need of mowing, signs of sickness. We can look for (and create) openings-- a hand-delivered card with cookies at Christmas, a coffee invitation, a holiday gathering.
5. We can be prepared.
If we spend time reading God's Word, memorizing Scripture, and we pray, God will use those daily habits to prepare us for sharing what He has done in our own lives. He promises to give us the words to say as we need them and the courage we need to be bold as we aim to live as His ambassadors in our community.
Last Sunday our pastor spoke on Matthew 28:18-20-- the great commission:
Our pastor went on to share that these are our marching orders. We are to "go about life" and make disciples along the way. Or-- as we are going about life, we are to make disciples within our circles of influence. Yes, God is sending His followers to the nations and He is also calling us to share who He is with others right here, right now...wherever we currently are, wherever we currently go.
And in some seasons of life... God may not ask us to "go" too far.
I never even made it into Costco on that day some fifteen years ago. But, He still provides ways for us to invite others into our lives with love and care. God provides opportunities for sharing His good news-- what He accomplished on the cross through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
We must abide in Him and be willing and ready to walk as He walked... (1 John 2:6)
Making the most of every opportunity... (Ephesians 5:16)
Even if our walk... is simply down the street to the mailbox.