What follows is a guest blog by my wife, Julie Gizzi
Finding Our Mission
The last couple of weeks I’ve been fortunate to witness friends on fire with their commitment to mission. My friend shared that every day she wakes up and says to God: “Ok God, show me what you want me to do today.” She starts every day this way, which impresses me on so many levels.
First, it’s a testimony to her faith that God is leading her life. I admire her as a fearless, faith-filled woman!
Second, it implies that what God is calling her to do today, might be different tomorrow.
Third, her prayer is her call to action and service. “Show me what you want me to DO today.” Not just believe or be, but DO.
Her commitment has stirred the hearts of many people around her. She has organized a group of friends from our church to provide lunches for the homeless on a daily basis. Not only are meals being provided, but they are providing them supplies, seeking medical help, and even welcoming them into our congregation at First Presbyterian Church. This was not planned; it was not an organized ministry. It began spontaneously, out of a need to find people to feed excess meals prepared for the Boys and Girls Club.
I’m a little shy to share that her commitment has made me squirm. I’ve asked those involved in this outreach to the homeless questions and they were gracious enough to share from their hearts. I’m embarrassed that my inquisitiveness might prove to them and myself that I’m not as good of a Christian as I hope to be.
In all this searching I have been asking myself the question: what is mission? And in the last few days what is so obvious to me most of the time rang true in my heart once again.
We are called to bring forth the Kingdom in the here and now. How do we do that? We serve those around us who need help and care. Here’s the tricky part: FINDING those opportunities in our already over-packed lives. How do we fit in just one more “thing” when we’re already juggling our marriages, parenting, jobs, kids’ activities, social media, committees, exercise, etc.
Sometimes our call to serve can be right under our noses. Yes, some of us are moved to serve people who are literally homeless and hungry. AND many times there are people in our everyday lives that are looking for a home in our hearts…they need a place to belong. AND many times there are people in our lives who are hungry for understanding, a purpose, forgiveness, and compassion. On the outside these people may be well dressed, live in a “comfortable” house and appear to have it together. Serving in all of these areas is a response to the Grace of God given to us freely.
For me I recognize that serving lasagna in a soup kitchen line to strangers I may never see again seems so much “easier” than having a heated conversation with my teenage son! It’s times like these that I love the idea of running away from challenging “God moments” in my own house. And for me, maybe that’s part of the lesson of “mission” – finding the moments around me to be intentional with service while also finding in those moments where God is trying to teach ME something, too.
This summer while weeding my parents’ garden following my mom’s heart surgery, I remembered fondly my college years. I was very active in our campus ministry volunteering programs where I coordinated programs for kids at the Boys & Girls Club, played volleyball with inmates, worked in the “Hunger Garden” and spent Spring Breaks and an entire summer in Selma, Alabama, working among some of the most challenging economic situations I’d ever seen. As I was weeding mom & dad’s garden that day it hit me: I was on a service trip! I went home to help take care of things as many of us do when our parents need us. Did I think of it that way at first? Not at all, but bending over pulling weeds, feeling the sweat and grime, keeping my eye out for snakes it all came to me – This world we live in is absolutely perfect when we all do something we can wherever we are!
If we all seek to serve outside of our “comfort zone” many of us will be looking for ways to get involved in areas that we’ve never been. This isn’t a bad thing. BUT sometimes the real challenge comes when we seek to serve among those with whom we connect every day.
What I’ve experienced in my heart is the realization that I am surrounded by opportunities to serve. They don’t always involve me opening up my calendar to see if I can fit it in, but they always involve opening up my heart. I need to hurry a little less so that I don’t miss that opportunity for me to be a part of the Body of Christ for someone in need. Slowing down will allow me to also see the face of God in someone, thus letting that person fulfill his or her mission to serve. It’s really a humbling partnership.
I praise and thank God for those around us whose response to the Gospel propels us to take a good look at our own lives. It gives us pause to do a check-up from the heart-up. And when the whole Body is doing its part, each act of service makes for the perfect Kingdom among us.
So, tomorrow I’ll begin my day with the intentional prayer: “Ok God, show me what you want me to do today.”
– Julie Gizzi