Encounter: Read Matthew 9:35-38 in several different translations. Underline any words or phrases that resonate with you. Pray and ask God to speak to you through this passage.
Hanging in my office is a painting of a person standing before the cross at different places along the path of spiritual healing. They go from head bowed in shame to worshipping with arms lifted high, restored to new life, restored to life lived hand and hand with their Creator God. I purchased this painting at a Mending the Soul conference years ago, because I knew it was more than just my story, it told the stories of millions.
I was reminded again of this amazing artist, James Vanfossan, the other day when Meg and I had a visit from my good friends and colleagues, Steve & Celestia Tracy. Steve was one of my seminary professors back in the day and he and Celestia, with many years of experience as a therapist, founded Mending the Soul, a ministry that equips the church with a community based model of healing for abuse survivors. I implemented MTS in the churches where I have pastored and held trainings to help other pastors and leaders get started. With the prevalence of abuse in our world, the church needs to be equipped to be the answer, to be place of hope and healing.
On this visit, the Tracy’s gave me a card of the image that you see on Renew this week of Jesus reaching back to grab ahold of a person’s hand and guide them out of what appears to be darkness into a place of light. This too, speaks to our journey with God. Jesus is reaching for every person. And it is an image of what it means to share the way. I wonder if we might also see it as the arm of Jesus, reaching through our arm to make sure no one is forgotten, that no one is left behind. (1 Peter 2:9).
This past week on East of Eden, I guided us through a step by step process of sharing our story in order to share our faith. Sharing our faith is something that most of us feel inadequate to do but I believe the Lord intends it to be a natural expression of our faith. Like the air we breathe, sharing our faith story is intended to be something that flows through us without striving or feeling anxious. It comes out of our own experience as Christ followers and who we are as His church.
During worship tomorrow, I will be talking with Steve about the mission of the church in sharing our faith with others and you know what? It sounds a lot like, “We are a welcoming community seeking transformation through relationship with Jesus Christ and inviting others to join us.”
Holding you all in my heart and prayers Eden Family,
Reflect: As you look at this drawing by James Van Fossan, meditate on the Matthew 9 passage. When Jesus saw the crowds, it says that He felt compassion for them because they were weary, worn out and like sheep without a shepherd. He immediately called for prayer, prayer for workers. What do you see when you look at “the crowds” in our world? What are they struggling with? Do you feel compassion?
Encourage: Is there anyone you know that seems weary or worn out like a sheep without a shepherd? Whether it is in your family, in your neighborhood or across the ocean, would you consider praying for laborers to be sent to those people so that they can hear the Good News of the kingdom and experience healing? Is it possible that God is answering your prayers by sending you? Is God calling you to share your story of faith to someone and invite them to join you on the journey?
Gather: Share with your Life Group, Triad or a friend about what God has laid on your heart about this passage. Pray together for the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest and encourage one another to go when you hear the call to share your faith.