We're continuing to use this blog during the Lenten season as a way of hearing from members of Christ's body here at Fellowship who are engaging Mark's Gospel and reflecting on untamed discipleship. This week's reflections are from Leslie Russell, one of our youth ministers. It has been my joy to be in ministry with Leslie for the past four years. I love her heart for God and others. Here are some of her personal reflections on what she is learning about being an untamed disciple:
As I listened to the sermon a couple weeks ago on "Carrying Your Cross," I was reminded of a phrase that I had heard recently at the Simply Youth Ministries Conference by a presenter named Ruth Haley Barton.
“What I do is not who I am. I am a Child of God, first.”
Barton's main focus of her seminar was on Silence and Solitude, and how we, as people in ministry, so often get caught up in the busyness of "doing God's work" that we lose sight of what matters most—our relationship with God.
I was actually feeling a lot of this not too long ago. I shared with my small group that I missed the Jesus I fell in love with. I wanted to get that back and I was feeling very lost. I was fearful; I was sad; and I was confused.
As I began to follow Barton's steps to enter into solitude with God, I found it most challenging to stop thinking,“shut up” and just listen to what God was trying to say to me. It took quite a few days, but gradually I began to feel my heart open up, my shoulders relax, and my breath even out as I made space for God. For the first time in a while, I felt a sense of freedom to pray, trust, and to even dance like David!
God is reminding me that I am created for Him, for His pleasure. And that should be my soul purpose in everything that I do. When I allow His love to fill me up first, then I am able to pour myself out into the lives of others.
So, how does this tie into Mark? Well, Jesus said to the disciples: Who do people say I am? “ and they answer: “Well, some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other prophets.” Then Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?”
Who do you say Jesus is? What is your only comfort in life and in death? Is it that you are not your own, but belong—body and soul in life and in death to your faithful Savior Jesus Christ?
And who do people say you are? Are you a nurse, a grandma, a teacher, a business owner? Or are you a Child of God first and foremost?
I encourage you to take time to start and end your day in the presence of God. To refuse to be caught up in the definition of your job description or vocation, but intentionally make space for God's presence and allow the Holy Spirit to help you fall back in love with Jesus. As 1 John 4:19 puts it, "We love because he has first loved us."
This is what I'm learning about being an untamed disciple.