This post was written by my friend Dana Connell, one of the most genuinely vibrant Christians I have met recently. She’s just completed her freshman year at Seminary. Let me get out of the way and let her talk to you…
It happened again today…. Thankfully though it was just me, my book, and my thoughts. It seems more often these moments of question, flashes of insight or understanding, or stumbling for a clear acceptable answer come when I am talking with someone–divine appointment style. This was one, but it was God’s divine appointment with me.
It wasn’t like the time I visiting the home of a man in his late 50s. A dying drug addict with many diseases, wheel chair bound, legs discolored and massively swollen, cigarette in hand. It was a rare lucid moment, he was calm, not unpredictably volatile as John had said he was most times (which is why he stayed away). John (a professed atheist) had told his friend that I liked to share good news. So he asked me “What’s the good news?” My mind whirled. I froze. An open door–the good news is the gospel, and this man needs to hear it. Where do I start? And I didn’t know quite what to say… The conversation went on from there… I thought the whole time of things to say, but never settled on what to say, and never did say anything. I never did get to see him again. He died. I kicked myself then and after. Divine appointment and I blew it. When someone’s eternity is hanging in the balance and the question is so simple–why do I hesitate? Why was it confusing? And I asked myself. Dana… what is the gospel? What is the good news? This should be elementary for you. It’s so simple. But to me, there seems so many components at times–so grand…
I was never good and answering questions on tests that I didn’t concretely know the answer for. I like to understand something through and through before I start it, do it, or say something about it. Despite my firmness that is the way I want to live my life… Life isn’t like that. The picture comes together as bit clearer with each step, each try, each circumstance, each relationship, even if it’s faltering.
Like being in Indonesia preaching an evangelism seminar when the pastor pulled me aside on night to comment on the teaching. He said, “Dana, you didn’t look happy tonight, usually you are engaging and even funny at times, you might want to work on that for tomorrow night.” (paraphrase) inwardly, I was thinking…I can’t teach something I don’t understand.The topic that night was, Jesus and Salvation. A few months later, working in the organic cereal factory, I posed that question to God. During the morning shift, I inwardly cried out… What do You do? I know You’re my Savior, You died on a cross, but what do You do? I understand that in my head, but I don’t get it in my heart… The thought that came to mind (what God said to me), “I save you from yourself, and do for you what you cannot do for yourself.” Now that might not [yet] make sense to you reading this, but it brought a lot of thoughts together in my mind.
Or the next question that comes to mind when I think of the gospel commission… To go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
The questions flood my mind then… Teach all nations (all of us humans) what? What were things we were to observe? What have You commanded us?
So I am reading this book today for a Muslims mission class, and this paragraph pops out…
Ask yourself the question,
“Is your Gospel the Gospel of Abiding Rest?”
If not, how would you describe your gospel or the gospel of your organization?
Do Muslims understand it?
Do they want it?
Without abiding in the Vine–resting in It–how can Jesus flow through us and fill us,
So that in His time He can produce fruit in us.
It’s the fruit people want. It’s the grain from the seed.
My immediate response is like Hagar when she encounters God and says, “I have seen the one who sees me.” And that has been the banner I’ve carried. Cry out to God–He hears, He answers, He provides, He guides. For when my heart was overwhelmed by all the heartache and troubles in my life and that I saw in this world, He opened my eyes. He’s the solution to every problem, and changes us to be part of the solution too.
But is that the gospel? Or Is it really that God loves us so much and can’t wait to have us in heaven and that has provided a way to bring us safely home to Him? Is it that Jesus died to cleanse me from all unrighteousness? Is it that Jesus can work all that has been bad for good? That’s where I find rest. Learning his ways, following Him. But like I mentioned a friend tonight…it seems like she lives her life with a micro view. Taking the time she needs to figure out her heart, to nurture herself, her time with friends, and with God. Mostly God. That God has time for her. All the time in the world. I know that he does for me, but there seems so much to “get done” in the “short time” there is on earth as I watch from the macro view. But then, I find each day, all I have to do, is be faithful to the opportunities He places in my path. And when I spend that time with him in the mornings, He orders my day, and gives me the light I need for myself and to share with those around me. Somehow, that’s been my gospel… Learning to trust Him and follow Him. He can change us–so that our thoughts, wants, desires are good. Good for us and good to others and good to the animals and the earth. But is that the gospel? Is that this abiding rest? Speaking of which, I am going to bed…
They sing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nations.” (Revelation 5:9)