The zipper closes on my suitcase. Flashes of memories of the past three days race through my mind like the landscape flying by a car at one hundred miles per hour.
Worship. The Living Word. Laughter. Tears. Heavenly strategic connection right here on earth. Disciple a generation echoing in our ears and resounding in our spirits. Faces and hands lifted high. Knees bowed low. Instant sisterhood upon meeting one another face to face. Online friends become in-the-flesh friends and hug each other for the first time. Leaders whole selves submitted to the weight of His Glory.
There is this sound. It’s ringing in my ears this morning.
My soul is rested and restless.
An army is being raised up and marching forward in formation, shoulder to shoulder guarding against any gap space. There is no regard for our individual lives. Footsteps. Hearts beating in unison.
Vision is cast and with all the strength she can muster, our general weeps. Sobs wretch her body. She wants to continue, but the weight of eternity and lives hanging in the balance destined for hell bears down on her shoulders.
A soldier stands, moves from her position in the ranks and steps to the front, to cover the general. A shield is raised in prayer over our general that could only be uttered from the mouth of a mortal by the power of the Commander of her own soul. A silent, “We are with you” echoes as if it had been shouted from the mountain top.
Jesus, reclining at the table, looks into the eyes of his disciples, “Your LOVE for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
The band of brothers, alongside Jesus head to the Garden of Gethsemane. The roads they have traveled, the works they have seen Him do with their very own eyes are memories seared into their minds. His teaching, backward and upside down. Lay down your life to gain it. The servant is the master. The least are the greatest in the Kingdom.
I don’t know what it is like to sit on the mount of olives under His teaching. I can not fathom watching Him heal the leper, raise the dead. These 12 of His, they did life together with one mission in mind: to know this Jesus, to follow him, and to be like Him.
Then He says the unthinkable. I am going to lay my life down. You will be scattered from the safety of each other’s friendship. You will go into all the world and make disciples in my Name.
I wasn’t there with the 12, but this past weekend I was in a space with more than 500 disciples gathering to know and make known the name of Jesus as far as we can reach.
Before He was arrested, Jesus prayed not just for them, but also for us. I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
He goes on, I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. (John 17:20-21, 23)
And then the cross, the resurrection, the 40 days post-resurrection. The 12 knew what it was to laugh together, cry together, struggle together. Together, they were comfortable. Then God, in His infinite wisdom calls them to multiply the spread of the Gospel by scattering them in every direction.
Those who had been scattered preached the Word wherever they went. (Acts 8:4)
How their hearts must have broken in the scattering, while simultaneously racing with the thrill of spreading the Word about Jesus, about Salvation. This was what they were made to do. Still, their hearts within them ached as they departed from one another; the bond of brotherhood submitting to the call to make known the Name of their Lord. I bet there were tear stains on their cheeks mixed in contrast with a deep game-day like heart-beat in their chest as they set their feet to the course before them, apart from one another.
The zipper will not close and I sit on my suit case in hopes it will contain all it’s contents for the duration of my trip home. Tears well in my eyes. I want to stay. Here in this place with this bold sisterhood, I feel safe and seen and understood. Tears stream my cheeks and my heart begins to beat faster in my chest and I know that (of course) this not why we’ve come. We’ve not come to stay.
We’ve come together to scatter and multiply. We’ve come to find courage (again) to go and disciple a generation. Courage has been found and now it’s time to move out.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)
Unlike the disciples, we do not scatter as a result of any kind of persecution. Instead we scatter because of Christ’s love that burns within us compelling us to no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died and was raised again (2 Cor. 5:14-15 condensed). It’s His heartbeat for the broken church, broken and hurting people, and a longing for His return that we hear and are sent running out commissioned again.
Where is He sending you out into? Have you found kindred like-minded souls pursuing His love to encourage you; speak truth to you; challenge you? I’m telling you, they are out there. I just met a whole ton of them. I want to encourage you to find them in your city. You can connect to IF which, turns around and connects you to a local church. You can connect to community around His word online and perhaps even right where you are through IF:Equip . I want to encourage you to jump in and connect, you will be so glad you reached out.
This incredible IFtern is so gifted and so generous-hearted and so smart! And she made sure my newest favorite song got significant air-time. 🙂 Grateful for you, Melissa and all of you servant-hearted IFterns!
*All IFterns raise their own support and some are not yet fully funded. Would you consider partnering to support the IFterns in the call God has given this this year alongside IF?