Among all the sermons, books and blogs in the world, it seems everyone wants to talk about what appears to be concrete, the “musts,” “shoulds,” and “should nots.” But I have learned over nearly a decade of leadership and ministry there is also an exorbitant amount of gray, areas where the fog of opposing values clouds any clear direction or choice.
In those situations, we tend to stray to one side of the road or the other because it’s often easier to follow a ditch or rut on the side of the road than to confidently stride down the center. However, it is in the midst of the fog and uncertainty that the Spirit leads us and works most powerfully; and He always pulls us to the middle of the “straight and narrow” where we have little tangible to follow but His gentle tug in the right direction.
Intentionality vs. Patience
One of the multitude of areas God is teaching me about walking with Him in the fog is the shaky balance of being intentional in discipleship while patiently leaving room for Him to work. For example, I currently hang out with a little Hindu girl. This college senior only knows me and attends my Bible study because she feels loved by us, but she’s still rather wary of anyone pressuring her to believe anything of which she’s unsure.
This creates an extremely challenging and tricky situation for me. Obviously, my desire is to boldly communicate to her all the beauty, freedom and truth that is in Christ Jesus. However, I also genuinely hope she knows she is my pal, not my project. We celebrated her twenty-first birthday together, and we often chat about Bollywood movies…of which I nothing about, but that’s what she loves so I’m more than willing to learn!
But where does Jesus come in?
Waiting on the Spirit to Work
Right now, I’m praying my way through this so I don’t get stuck in the rut of having no purposeful conversations that point her to the gospel, while avoiding the ditch of only spending time with her because of an agenda. The beautiful thing about patiently waiting on God’s timing while eagerly looking for any opportunity is that she actually started asking me to tell her more about what I believe, and to bring my Bible with me sometimes to explain what’s in there.
While I’m so eager to see how God moves and works in this, I still have to ensure I don’t rush things. He has proved to me over and over His timing is perfect, so I’m choosing to believe this situation will be no different and I will soon see this girl choose the Way of Christ and accept what He did for her on the cross.
Since her invitation to me to share my faith, I have seen this girl offer to pray in group, plan her class schedule around Bible study, and openly cry out to God on social media. I see God wooing and pursuing her, and I can’t wait to see His work come to fruition. I’m so grateful He’s slowly teaching me to look for His tug on my heart in every discipling situation, so I know when to press on my girls and urgently point them to the saving power of the gospel, and when to simply be their friend.
Along the way, I learned that sometimes, a conversation about Bollywood movies is exactly what God uses on the road to salvation. My creative, all-knowing God never rushes anything, and uses the most random things in order to to call His own. Who am I to limit how He works?
Emily acts as the women’s college pastor on a volunteer basis for Gateway Church in Austin. Things she feels are concrete: Walking Dead is one of the best shows on TV, and no matter what time it is, OU still sucks. The gray areas include: will the government shutdown ever end? Will Whole Foods survive the invasion of Trader Joe’s in Austin? In such a chaotic world, Emily is grateful to do life with her husband, Ben Sledge, and her community.