After I graduated from college my greatest need as a discipler was for someone to come along periodically and tell me “You’re Not Crazy!”
I’ll never forget when one of the girls I was discipling met a girl at the gym who was asking all sorts of spiritual questions. She asked if I’d be willing to have dinner with them after work. Now I’d only been married a little over a month and I was working full time. The last thing I wanted was to spend more time away from my husband! But five months later when this new friend entered into God’s family was I ever thankful I did!
Shortly after this I was reaching out to a student assistant who invited me to go birdwatching at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings. When you work full time, getting to sleep in that one morning a week is pure gold. Again I had to leave my new husband! At the time it was like pulling teeth to go, but when she entered the kingdom a few months later was it ever worth it!
A life seeking to spur others on to follow Jesus is not an easy way to live! It requires intentionality and sacrifice of time, energy and resources. On top of this, there is a great struggle as you bear the burdens of others and take part in their battles too. Paul told the Colossians “I want you to know how much I have agonized for you…” (Col 2:1 NLT) This is part of loving deeply and investing heavily in someone. Where your treasure is, your heart is also… in both joy and pain!
When one of the girls I was meeting with shared she was emotionally involved with her boss and about to leave her husband, this led to one of the most intense battles I’ve ever engaged in. Afterwards it was beautiful to see the way the Lord intervened to save her marriage and family – but that did not happen without grueling spiritual and emotional warfare.
Being involved in the lives of others can be exhausting! And it’s not uncommon to wonder if you are crazy for even trying! Especially as there aren’t many people around, not even among committed Christians, doing this.
As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:19 “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” He acknowledges following Jesus and helping others do so is hard! If this life is all there is, we’re getting the short end of the stick!
What a help it can be when a friend reminds you this isn’t all there is! When she reminds you of what’s eternal, of what awaits! That what’s important isn’t about feeling good, or taking it easy or being comfortable in this life! Who helps refresh your eternal perspective, reminding you it really is worth all the sacrifice!!!
Thankfully the Lord blessed me with a friend who recognized my need for this. For years she has taken initiative to get together with me, to pray for me, to listen to how I am doing and remind me it really is worth it.
I can’t stress enough the importance of having at least one friend like this ~ and being a friend like this! For no one who is actively involved in advancing God’s kingdom has it easy in this life!
So many times when I read what Paul wrote about being poured out like a drink offering , I think “Yep! Been there. Done that. Living this right now!”
And note, Paul didn’t just write about this once! You’ll find he mentions it in both Philippians 2:17 and 2 Timothy 4:6. This is a common experience when you are intentionally reaching out and investing in others, seeking to advance God’s kingdom!
And it is a battle! Without a doubt whenever someone comes to know Christ, hard things always happen in our lives – plumbing backs up, appliances stop working, our son breaks an arm…
What a blessing when a friend will come alongside to pray with us and for us, to love on us, to encourage us, as we dive into the battle as well as during it and even when we take time to rest and refresh.
And it doesn’t even have to be someone in the same town!!! Proverbs 25:25 states, “Like cold water to a parched soul, is good news from a distant land.” What a difference getting a real letter in the mail can make! And now with Skype and Facetime it’s so easy to keep in touch with friends at a distance.
Every single laborer in God’s Kingdom needs this!
So be sure to take time to cultivate at least one encouraging relationship! Don’t try to do this alone! Ask the Lord to provide someone who will care for your heart and be there to remind you, “You’re Not Crazy!!!”
If you truly desire to labor for a life time, it’s not just worth it, it’s vital!