It was the summer after I graduated from High School. I spent most of my days driving the old, straight, country roads in Indiana that stretched between my house and my full-time job at Target. I spent the summer days stocking shelves, gathering carts, ringing people up and eating Tacos from the Taco Bell across the street. It was a typical teenage summer.
Except that it was the summer when I sensed the call to some sort of vocational ministry.
For one week that summer, in the middle of that same routine, I remember feeling the presence of God pressing in on me in a way I hadn’t experienced before. I had grown up in church, had given my life to Jesus at an early age, had (in fits and starts with definite failures along the way) sought to follow him growing up…but this was different. It’s like all my life I had felt like the pursuer in the relationship…but now I felt pursued (of course, this is always the reality, but it was intense). I would wake up with God, spend the day with God, go to sleep and dream about God.
Until one Saturday night, at the end of that week, I shut myself in my room after a day of work. I figured, “Alright, God, you’ve got my attention, let’s figure out what this is all about.” I resolved not to come out of my room until God had made it clear what in the world it was that he wanted with me.
So, I prayed.
I’ve never been a wordy or lengthy pray-er, but on this night it went on for some time, until, at some point after 1am, I heard (not with my ears, but plain as day) the words, “I want you to spend your life telling people about Jesus.”
(It gets me…just typing those out. Every time.)
There wasn’t a question about it. Of course the answer was “Yes.” It came through all the usual reservations about not being faithful enough, good enough, smart enough, gifted enough, etc… But none of those mattered.
There was just this call. And there was nothing else to say.
For the past 22 years of my life I’ve been seeking, in one way or another, to be faithful to that calling.
I say all this because this next series we’re launching into is a special one for me. It’s the season in the church when we tell the story of Jesus on our way to Easter. So, we’re just calling it “Jesus.” And I’m going to take a few months to tell you about the one I’ve been asked to share with you. Jesus is the work and passion of my life and I can’t wait to walk through his life and ministry with you.
I also want to ask for your help. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you have already heard about Jesus and know his story well. Hopefully you’ve already given your life to him and are experiencing the joy of life in him.
But you have friends, family, neighbors and co-workers who haven’t.
You know folks who, for whatever reason, remain a long way off from a vibrant relationship with their Creator. They likely have good reasons for this distance: bad church experiences, having heard a dysfunctional version of the Jesus story, a lack of good, godly people in their lives to help them know and get a handle on God’s love for them, etc…
But over the course of my life, this calling God placed on me has sharpened to include a special emphasis on those who find themselves a long way off from God.
Jesus came specifically for these friends of ours.
So, over the next few months I want to make a promise. If you bring someone who has never been to church before and doesn’t know anything about Jesus at all (good luck with that, in middle Tennessee, but still), they’re going to hear a message on Sundays that will be relevant to their life, help them in their search for meaning/connection/faith/life – and ultimately point them to Jesus.
I’d love to see our church turn up the expectation level of what we expect God to do when the name of Jesus is lifted up and shared with those around us.
He still is seeking and saving the lost.
I want to be a part of it.
I know you do to.
In the name of Jesus.
See you Sunday.