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Living Missionally: Lights in a Dark World

A college mentor of mine challenged our group of 20-somethings: "See the world through a different lens, a lens from which God sees, one that detects light from dark." Imagine that if looking through infrared goggles..(think war movies-- Those goggles where everything looks green except when something has body temperature, then it's appears red. Embarrassingly I'll admit that I'm picturing the Schwarzenegger movie Predator) looking through these goggles, the entire world is dark--your neighborhood, your street--it's pitch black, until you, a believer in Christ--a creation filled with God's light--moves in. Now on a once dark street, a light glows from within a house. It is dim but inviting, and as it moves beyond its doors of confinement, it pierces. Darkness is affected by light. When you interact with someone still in darkness, it is significant. "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot comprehend it." (John chapter 1).
Our mentor added to the challenge: "Now write down everyone with whom you come in contact this week." She passed out pocket-sized notebooks while continuing, "The person you sit next to in class, the girls who live on your hall, the person who swipes your card in the dining hall, the cashier at Walmart, EVERYONE."
Over the course of the semester, we kept track of where our "light" touched. We began praying for those people, especially the ones who repeatedly crossed our paths. We looked for ways to intentionally share the love of Jesus with our actions, as well as share the message of Jesus with our words. The experience has forever changed my perspective.
Now a stay-at-home mom of 3, my interactions look a lot different. When I go through the grocery line, I try to pacify one kid in the buggy seat, keep the other two from pulling off goodies that hang at tot eye-level, all the while unloading and reloading an overflowing shopping cart and managing a series of coupons both paper and digital. It is hard for me to focus on the person who is possibly in the darkness on the other side of the check-out. But when I do, when I stop focusing on the frustrations of long-lines and many distractions, God not only uses me to impact someone, He does something else amazing: He changes ME. In that moment, He chips away another piece of my selfishness.
Through a series of several shopping trips, I recently built a rapport with a cashier who is about my age and a mommy of 2. One Fall day, we chatted about our kids and Halloween costumes, and she mentioned how she really wanted to buy her son a costume that their store had for sale, but her husband didn't want her to spend $20 on a costume so they would have to make something, but she said longingly, "I know he'd just be SO CUTE in it."
After she rang up my items, I said, "I'll take a $20 gift card please." Once I paid, I handed her the gift card and said, "Here, this is for you. Go buy your son that costume."
Her jaw dropped with shock. With blushing cheeks and a wide grin she shook her head and said, "I can't accept this."
I said, "No really, I want you to have it! God bless you!"
She took my gift with a smile and a thanks. The lady behind me in line chased after me in the parking lot to say, "You just made her day! She was absolutely gushing!" And of course, the experience had made MY day because joy is found when I live out God's purpose for life! A significant exchange of light occurred that day, and one that she will hopefully associate with God's love until bit by bit the light she experiences spells out Jesus' message to her.
Karl and I are leading our Bible Fellowship class at church through a monthly series on Living Missionally, and this month's focus is on listening and meeting "felt needs" of those around us. Jesus did this throughout His ministry on earth--He fed the hungry, healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, and so on. In our world of modern comfort, most people seem like they don't need much, but even those with big houses and full bellies have needs, most are like Zacchaeus--they need a friend. This month, please join us in living missionally by meeting someone's need in the name of Jesus, and lighting up a little more of the world.

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