Caden and Evie,
The roads are covered; the driveways are coated; and the grass is concealed by the beauty of the recent snowfall. Big mounds of white, fluffy flakes are everywhere, and it’s beautiful. Cold air, chimney smoke, frosted trees, and the sound of plows blanket the landscape of Kettering, Ohio.
And because all this beauty is hiding all the spaces where cars drive and people travel, church was canceled this morning.
So pulling out the griddle and heating up the water, we left our jammies and bed time hair and instead, poured coffee and made blueberry-filled pancakes. And while we took it slow and enjoyed the company of one another, we used the extra time to start learning your AWANA verses for the week.
As I opened your Sparkie’s book, Caden, I read the following:
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation, to everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16
In order to complete this section of your book, you are required to not only memorize Romans 1:16, but you are also encouraged to share the gospel (found in the words of John 3:16) with two people outside of your home. And if I’m being honest with you, that feels like an overwhelming task for a little soul.
As we started to memorize your verse and talk through the two people you could share the gospel with, I felt angst in my soul. I felt torn. I felt weird. Truth be told, I felt completely conflicted asking you to do something that I, my 35 year-old self, sometimes feel “ashamed” to do.
I felt like a hypocrite, and I hated it.
So taking a brief moment, I silently prayed for both of our hearts. I prayed for my hypocritical tendencies; I prayed for boldness for the both of us; and we moved on with our snowy Sunday.
Sometime between breakfast, lunch, and a playoff game, we secured our boots, grabbed our shovels, and headed out to the driveway to dig ourselves out of the thick, white blanket that was enclosing our cars.
As your daddy and I shoveled and as you guys jumped from snow bank to snow bank, I heard the “Hello” of Mr. Kevin, our next-door neighbor. Carrying a shovel in his hand, he came over and began shoveling alongside of us. And per usual, he launched into the “many problems of mankind.” As daddy cleaned off the porch and attended to the cars, I continued to shovel and smile as Mr. Kevin talked and talked.
“Ya know, Jessica. Mankind is the problem with this world. We aren’t nice to each other; we don’t respect one another; and we just demean one another. Christopher Columbus was an awful man; racism is a problem; and our government is a mess. I’m scared for your kids, Jessica. It’s an awful world, and we need good people like you guys in our society to help fix it.”
As I listened, the Spirit quickened my heart.
Jessica, tell him the Truth. Do not be ashamed. Share the gospel.
Surprisingly, with very little fear, I stopped shoveling and said, “Ya know what, Kevin, I think you’re right in a lot of ways. Our world is a mess, and mankind is a problem, and I think God’s Word talks about all of that. From a biblical perspective, the sin of mankind is the problem and this world is a mess, but God gave us a rescue plan not in us…but in Him.”
He stopped shoveling; I stopped shoveling; and kids, we had CHURCH on the sidewalk.
In front of our houses and beside the road, we talked about grace, and we talked about sin. We talked about the origin of sin, and we talked about our inability to be good enough to save ourselves. We talked about the reason why Jesus was crucified, and we talked about the ultimate solution for our government, mankind, and our world found. We talked about the Garden of Eden; we talked about the Creator of the world; and we talked about how Christ in us can bring glory to God while we wait for His return to eliminate sin and fix this world.
Kids, the Spirit empowered Mommy to share “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,” and because of His empowerment, seeds were planted and soil was watered. Mr. Kevin didn’t have a personal response in that moment, but he didn’t walk away. Standing in piles of snow, he listened as I shared. And ya know what? That’s where it all begins.
As we said “goodbye” and as I dusted off my boots and headed into the house to find our “Build a Snowman” kit, I couldn’t help but praise the Lord in humble adoration. He knew my fear this morning; He heard my silent prayer; and He made a way for me to share His power.
And as I thought about the events of the morning, I was reminded of the importance of not just doing church but being the church.
Kids, there is nothing wrong with meeting together on Sunday mornings. There is nothing wrong with gathering in pews, singing songs of worship, and hearing the Word of God preached in a building where we gather together at our respective times. In fact, there is so much RIGHT about all of that.
And yet, there is so much WRONG in all of that if we never bring our “church” outside of our buildings. There’s so much WRONG if we leave our faith for Sunday mornings and our grace for the confines of our pews. There’s so much WRONG if we leave the gospel in our safe gatherings and in the walls and halls where we worship as a corporate body. There’s so much WRONG if we prioritize “doing church” over “being the church.”
And guess what kids? I’ve been guilty of doing all of that and truth be told, you will too.
So today, on January 13th, 2019, I want you to remember that we carry His Spirit within us. And where we go, He goes. And where He is, “church” can happen. And when we “are the church,” we carry with us all the power that Romans 1:16 promises.
Kids, “being the church” looks like a whole lot of different things, but here’s what I can tell you…it begins with a relationship. And as that relationship grows, opportunities come. And when those opportunities come, by the grace and empowerment of God, we can share the GOOD NEWS that goes with us to ALL THE PLACES…which sometimes leads us right to the end of our driveways.
We’ve taken leftovers to Mr. Kevin. We’ve shoveled his driveway. We’ve brought him cookies. We’ve picked him tomatoes. We’ve waved. We’ve told our story. We’ve borrowed his tools. We’ve asked him questions. We’ve let him mow our grass and pick our weeds. We’ve cut him flowers. We’ve talked countless hours about politics, books, foster care, investments, finance rates, and everything in between.
Kids, we’ve been building a relationship with Mr. Kevin for 3+ years–a relationship that has led him to the conclusion that we are “good people” who will “help fix society.” And when he openly affirmed this, we had the perfect opportunity to share with him the “WHY’S” of the “WHAT’S” we do.
And if you ask me, THAT is both doing and being the “CHURCH.”
So though there was no “church” this morning, I would submit there was…right on our sidewalk.
As I always tell you when leaving the house, “Be a light; be a blessing!” And today I’ll also ask, “Caden, Evie? Do you want
build a snowman be the CHURCH?”