I go to a lot of funerals. And by choice actually. I have had the unique opportunity of helping coordinate funerals for families in our church for the past few years. It’s not a ministry I ever anticipated pursuing, but it is one that God brought about, and He has used it to grow me in many ways. Very recently He used a moment of clarity in a funeral service to deepen my love and commitment for what I believe gives our lives kingdom value and significance: biblical discipleship.
A Funeral Induced Panic
It was just this past weekend that I was sitting in a funeral service and had a strong reaction, one I’ve never had before, while watching the slide show that the family had prepared. Picture by picture, watching the moments of this woman’s life go by on the screen and I felt the brevity of life. I felt what we all hear, that our life is just a vapor, a breath, and then it’s gone. I wondered to myself “Is this what my life is going to come down to…pictures on the screen? Is this how my family will commemorate my time here, by snapshots in time? Because if so, I’m in trouble.”
See, I’m not much of a picture taker. I’m not the mom who goes down to the front at the assembly and gets a great picture of her kid holding their certificate. Sure, I’ll attempt to take a pic, but it will be from the back, and it will be on a phone, zoomed in, grainy, and only if I happen to have enough memory. Our last family pictures hanging on our wall are only about 10 years old. And I’m not a selfie taker. I’ve tried on a particularly good hair day and all I hear is myself in my ear, “Seriously, this is just embarrassing.”
So the idea that my life was going to be boiled down to a seven minute slide show made me panic. Just exactly what pictures were going to be strewn together to try to capture my life? Posed Easter photos? Snapchat filters with my daughter? I knew intellectually that, of course, a legacy is not about the pictures, but in that moment, it felt empty and that maybe I should have done a better job of cataloging my life on film.
Later that night I had some time to unwind with my thoughts and I revisited my reaction to the photos. I asked God to bring some clarity and truth to my mind and immediately he brought a memory from just the night before.
Memory Induced Joy
It was of myself and my good friend, Jessica. We were sitting across the table from one another in a Starbucks, our Bibles and discipleship books between us. She had completed the last of her 18 weeks of lessons and this was our final time together before she started her own journey as a discipler. We both felt a definite sadness as we sat down but very quickly it was completely absorbed by the glory of God. I know I can’t fully articulate the praise service that commenced in that local Starbucks, but it was like the place was levitating. In my mind’s eye I can still see the joy on Jessica’s face as she bragged on God and all He had done in her life over the last several months. She beamed describing the change in her heart, and her new passion to see others find and follow Jesus. We went back and forth for an hour reminding each other of all the ways we had seen this purposed time together and in the Word change us, discipline us, teach us, and guide us. It was an overflow of gratitude I don’t think either of us expected. It was astonishing and I remember looking into her eyes and thinking “This right here, this is what abundant joy feels like.”
We talked at length about this mission of discipleship to which we have been called. This mission of investing in one other all that we know about Jesus. How Jesus gave us the command in Matthew 28 because He knew that it would be in the fulfilling of this mission that we Christians would find exactly what we are longing for – significance. As we pour out our experiences, our struggles, and our knowledge, we get indescribable joy, value, and significance poured into us. Indescribable because it’s not of this world, it’s granted to us from another world, from our heavenly kingdom.
Just the memory of sitting across from her evoked such a physical reminder of joy that I got a lump in my throat and God spoke to my heart, “Darci, these are the moments that I will use to build your legacy and my kingdom. No one’s looking, no cameras present. I’ve used you to mark her life and she’s marked yours. Don’t worry, I’ve recorded it all.”
Our Mission: To Run and Make Disciples
I have loved the process of discipleship, and experienced its joy, but I needed the reminder of this weekend. I needed the gut-check that it is investment in people, in mostly unseen moments, that build a life story with a Kingdom legacy. It’s the testimony of a life shared and Jesus consistently given away that will matter in that final eulogy. I needed to remember that this one life is brief so I must run. I must put my head down and do the things He’s called me to do, without distraction, without compromise. I must run.
And while we run, you and I, we look for someone to run with for a while. We disciple. To be quite frank, discipling is not something we need to pray about. Yes, of course, we pray for discernment as to the “who” and “when” of discipleship, but Jesus has already been clear about the question of “should I?” So we plan for it and build it into our race. We build it into our life.
We nurse and disciple.
We parent and disciple.
We educate and disciple.
We build and disciple.
We manage and disciple.
We serve our country and disciple.
We pastor and disciple.
We retire and disciple.
Our Example: Paul and Timothy
I know Paul felt this way. He exemplified life on mission. Not only was he faithful to his call to take the gospel of Jesus to the Gentile people but he did it while investing in other men. The last letter he penned was written to his beloved son in the faith, his precious disciple, Timothy. His last known encouragements were to this one who meant so much to him and whose relationship brought him such comfort.
We know from Acts 16:1 that upon arrival to Lystra, Paul heard good things from other believers about Timothy and this prompted him to invite Timothy to join him on his missionary journeys. Later, in 2 Timothy we read how Paul was instrumental in calling out Timothy’s gift of preaching and then urges him to fan this gift into flame. Paul sees the potential in Timothy and gives himself to the time and effort to see it realized. He calls out the spiritual gifts he discerns in Timothy and then instructs and gives him opportunity to exercise his gifts. Amazing! I am sure this investment wasn’t always convenient or fun for Paul. But we do have evidence that it was joy giving for him, life changing for Timothy, and world-changing for us.
Our Result: True Significance and Eternal Legacy
This is our kingdom work, our kingdom mission, and it is part of every Christ-follower’s race. It is where you and I will find pure joy and eternal significance. Seriously, we rob ourselves of so much blessing when we set it aside as someone else’s job. Can I encourage you, friend, like I was encouraged? Consider the brevity of your time here and how you can make a rich and lasting impact before that final slide show plays: it’s people. See people. Invest in people. Find just one who is willing and open up your mouth and your life to them, share your story of you and Jesus. Just one, and then another, and then another, and watch God build your legacy. An eternal legacy.
How to Start
If you’ve walked with Jesus for a bit and want to walk in obedience to the command to disciple–but aren’t sure with whom, ask God to show you. Anytime I have just finished consistent meetings with someone, like Jessica, I start asking God to bring the next woman and to make her clear to me. Usually she’s already close by and has been a part of my church life, whether it’s in a small group setting or a casual acquaintance. Sometimes God gives us an opportunity for conversation where the topic of discipleship comes up, or sometimes she just asks if I’m available. Listen, I just ask Him. He does all the work. I try not to hound anyone, I just try to be sensitive to the Spirit to lead me to her.
Are you willing to jump in but not sure where to start? Talk to someone in leadership at your church to find out if they have specific materials they want you to use and then YOU GO FOR IT! I’ve used a particular book for years that I love. It’s called Directions by Pastor Jeff Adams and you can find it here. But remember, it doesn’t have to look a certain way or be exactly like someone else does it. Just dive in and watch Him do something amazing!
Maybe you are on the flip side and are one who craves to have another woman invest time in you and share how she walks with Jesus. Then I also encourage you to ask someone in your church leadership for direction, or talk to someone who seems to have walked with Jesus longer than you, and ask her to point you to someone who disciples. It does take some vulnerability, but Jessica and myself and many others who have gone through biblical discipleship or mentoring would tell you it’s incredibly worth it.
Friend, let’s decide today to spend our lives on the only investment with an eternal yield: people. When the end comes for me, I’ve decided I’m not too worried about the pictures, I just want the people. If I can run my race and build a life sharing glory moments like I had with Jessica, and teach her how to share glory moments with her next person, I don’t think I’ll have to worry about finding my purpose…I’ll be living it. And to our Lord, it will be significant.
Jesus commanded: GO…MAKE DISCIPLES…and don’t worry, I WILL BE WITH YOU.