I have spent the last two years walking beside my dear friend, Hannah, not her real name.
Hannah and her husband lived decent lives and did what they thought was right and all of those pat answers to a life without Christ. That is until the Fall of 2008 when their lives began to shatter. The pressure of too many compromises, too much pent up pain, too many fights that didn’t end in forgiveness and the constant pressure of feeling inadequate overwhelmed them. They were lost and they had no idea.
As they failed in marriage, in child-rearing, in looking outside themselves for hope, God was near to them. He whispered to my heart, to my husband, to other believers all around them and step by step, “coincidental” conversation by “accidental” meeting, He lovingly drew them to Himself.
And they listened. And they responded. And they were transformed.
One Saturday afternoon in May I see him, David, nothisrealname, and after a few attempts to avoid me, he pours out his heart and shares a torrid and painful story of failure. And my heart hurt for their family until he used my favorite phrase, “But God…”
Then the story was transformed from ashes to beauty as he acknowledged a real understanding of salvation and a gratitude toward the Lord that only a brand new baby can express.
Later that afternoon Hannah called us and, in her typically straightforward fashion, asked me the following question, “We don’t know anything about the Bible, will you teach us?”
That was almost two years ago. Two tumultuous, messy, brilliant, agonizing and exhausting years.
Hannah and David aren’t my “responsibility” but have become my family. We have lived beside each other, I have prayed, wept, been angry, frustrated, encouraged, overjoyed and hopeful.
We have lived our lives together. That is discipleship. It’s not a once a month therapy session or weekly bible study. Although that can be part of it.
By living our lives together I have been sharpened in my understanding of the Word on many levels. The reality of what it means to honor your husband even when his behavior is hard to understand. The times when it matters far more to honor God. And to let Him sort out the consequences but trust Him to do it well.
We have all heard the word “mentor” thrown around with a vague understanding of one leading another, degrees and levels of maturity being examined and ultimately a certificate of accomplishment… Or something like that.
But I don’t believe that is what Paul had in mind when he shared how he had spent years in cities building up the Body. When he loved Timothy like his own son.
I didn’t start out, two years ago, thinking that I was going to do something amazing in Hannah’s life. I figured, as a believer for 15 years, I knew a little more than she did and I would just share what I knew!
Her transformation was up to God. Her passion for Him? Was up to her.
I didn’t love being stretched and “inconvenienced” as I was drawn from the selfish, isolated position into which I had comfortably settled myself. But her eagerness to see Jesus, her hunger for the Word, her resolute determination to understand and obey whatever she could get a grasp on has re-energized my faith.
My husband meets regularly with David. Together they pore over Scripture and my Mr. gently leads David through difficult texts that confront and challenge long held prejudices about Christianity and the role of the Church.
Their faith is child-like and sometimes childish. They are growing. And we are too.
Discipleship is messy. Awkward. Invasive. Costly. And priceless.
And it has the heart of God written all over it.
Yesterday I saw Hannah and she had a peace that I’d never seen before. It’s been a rough week. She was confronted with a situation where David’s response contradicted what she knew of Scripture and she found herself at a crossroads. She chose to obey the Word and to trust God to touch David’s heart. And when God showed up and performed a miracle in his heart? Bringing peace in the midst of chaos?
Her faith increased.
And seeing her, in the afterglow of God’s peace, makes it all worthwhile.
There are others out there who desire to share this heart of discipleship for women. She Speaks is a conference specifically designed to equip women to share the love of Christ and His goodness with other women.
AHolyExperience is offering a scholarship to one woman to attend. And I’d love to go.