This year of 2013 is closing and 2014 is about to be born. When it comes to crossing over from one year to the next, I get to thinking about what needs to change in my life. You know, the traditional "New Year resolutions"? ;)
However, rather than my usual too-lofty ambitions, I want to return to the basics this coming year. Primarily, loving God and loving others and doing them well.
I recently finished what has become a new favorite book of mine - "You Are God's Plan A: and there is no plan b," by Dwight Robertson.
I downloaded the Kindle version awhile back, not knowing what it was about, but just because it was free at the time. And then I started it during my personal retreat last week, when I was seeking God for, among other things, what should be my next step in ministry. Though it was kind of by "accident" that I downloaded and then began reading the book...within the first few pages, I knew God wanted me to read it and it was His perfect timing.
Though I would love to tell you all that I gleaned, I really want you to read the book for yourself. Thus, I will share just a few highlights.
What is God's "Plan A" for reaching the world?
It is you and me - loving people up close, in the mainstream of our own lives, as they are interwoven among others' paths. Evangelism, the Great Commission, and reaching the world for Jesus is a task not just for the pastor, the missionary, the worship leader, the Billy Grahams, but for every child of God who has experienced His love and grace.
God's plan to reach your family, your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, the people around you - is you. We are co-laborers with Jesus, following His pattern of loving others.
"If you've avoided involving yourself in the work of God's Kingdom because you don't think you have anything significant to contribute, then I have good news for you: God wants to work through you, He chooses you."
"God does extraordinary things through ordinary (and even lowly) people and circumstances. He always has...and He still does."
"You don't need to imitate anyone else. God has designed you like no other, and His design is perfect for the ministry He's called you to. In a sense, He's given each of us a ministry fingerprint."
(A fingerprint meaning God has a "unique and distinct ministry role" just as your physical fingerprints are unique.)
But, it's not all about us, it's all about our God. We want people to see Him, not us. We want them to experience His love, peace, grace.
"We impress people from a distance, but we impact them when we're up close. Because when we're up close to others...we bring God close to them as well."
This means we must remain close to God - so we can be "connectors" for others to the true Power Source - our Heavenly Father.
"The greatest gift you'll ever give the world is your intimacy with God."
The above quote may be my most favorite in the entire book. Want God to use you to impact your world to the greatest degree? Then let Him fill you, empower you, lead you. What we have to offer to others is limited, but God's supply is limitless.
"The closer to God you get, the more of God you'll give. But the further away from God you get, the less of God (and the more of you) you'll give to others."
I love the way Robertson shows how Jesus' very relational method of investing in a few people at a time is the best "method" to reach the world. If every year for 20 years you invested in the lives of two people, and they did the same for 20 years, and those they touched did the same for 20 years, eventually more than 3.48 billion people would be impacted. He contrasted this to a public speaker reaching 100,000 people every year for 20 years - eventually impacting only 2 million in that time. See the difference?
I want my time in Uganda to be effective and I so much want to eternally impact the lives of those around me, but it's not through great teaching methods, charismatic sermons, or mesmerizing miracles. It is by bringing God's love up close to others.
Okay, I could go on and on, but I really want you to read the book. So, I will close with this final quote for you to chew on.
"How do you become God's Plan A? Simply get up close to people, hang out with them, love them in practical ways, and share the God who lives in you with them. Everyone can do that."
P.S. The Kindle version of "You are God's Plan A: there is no plan B" is only $2.51 on Amazon!