One hot, sticky Mississippi night, pregnant with our third child and trying to wash two slippery toddler boys up in the bath, I took my wedding band (which was soldered to my engagement ring ) off and put in up on the counter.
Preggo brain caused me to forget it was there until the next day. I questioned my four year old with no results and tried questioning my nearly two year old, “Did you see Mommy’s ring on the counter?” Head shake affirmative. Uh oh. “Where did you put Mommy’s ring?”
My sweet little two year old pointed to the toilet. I cried, I called my husband, Matt, I was frantic!
We called our plumber friend to pull up the toilet, no dice! We called another plumber with a camera snake to search the pipe, nothing!
And finally, out of desparation, we called to have the septic tank pumped. That man jumped in and searched with his hands in some nasty, smelly filth for my ring and then took the truck, emptied it into a field and search again. It was gone!
I cried and prayed for days over that ring. I told my sob story to everyone who listened and we scoured the house again and again. It started to consume me.
Meanwhile, in my quiet time, God had me reading through the book of Luke. My reading a few days later was from Luke 15. You know the parables of the lost sheep, coin, and son.
The Holy Spirit’s message to me: “Would you spend as much time, energy, and money in seeking my lost sheep as you have your ring?”
This wasn’t just stepping on my toes, this was a cinderblock dropped on the foot. I bowed my head, cried, and had to honestly whisper, “No, God, I wouldn’t. It would not have even crossed my mind.”
I spent a lot of time over the next few months seeking forgiveness for my failure to notice and pray for the lost souls around me and making my list of those I needed to seek out and share the gospel.
It was not a coincidence that this lesson came when it did. You see, just months later, God would call Matt and I to move to Canada to plant a church. And, church planting has everything to do with seeing the lost get found.
It wasn’t easy, it was paved with uncertainty, hardships, loneliness, and rejection. Time doesn’t allow to tell of all of the spiritual warefare or battles the Lord saw us through.
We experienced resistance from the officers at the Canadian Boarder and were only granted a 1 year visitor’s record.We had no credit history, job history, or monetary earnings in the country which meant securing a residence even just to rent was tough. We ended up moving into a small, very old, 900 square foot town home with no yard and one bathroom for five people.
The first time I went grocery shopping, I cried and left with 2 things, bread and peanut butter. The prices were astronomical, the stuff I needed wasn’t there and why did milk have to come in bags? I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself and trying to assure God that I deserved better.
And then I met the neighbors…
I met a woman who was living with her three kids and had just escaped an abusive relationship.
I met a lady who was lonely and stuck because her husband took their one car to work.
I met a widowed older man who allowed his grouchy exterior keep him from getting to close to anyone.
I met those lost sheep. The ones Jesus left the others to seek. My heart broke. The lesson came back.
It was as if I was seeing for the first time why I lost that ring and why God wanted me to experience these seemingly less than perfect conditions. I didn’t need to focus on what I had, where I lived, what food I ate, I needed only to focus on the mission, “seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
It’s not about us! It’s about God. It’s about His glory. It’s about His mission. We are to just be obedient. Sometimes we have to learn our lessons the hard way.
The lesson isn’t just for me. It’s for all of us. God has called us to be His ambassadors and to share His good news among the nations. Failing to do so is a sin because we are disobeying an explicit command:
“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.”Matthew 28:19-20
It is said that “the rewards outweigh the sacrifice” and in God’s kingdom, it is absolute truth. He blessed us with friendships, resources personally and for our church, He allowed us to see the lost get found, a church started from the ground up, and is now allowing us to use our experiences to help other church planter families get started with their church plants.
Sometimes, in God’s merciful goodness, He even rewards our faithfulness here on Earth with material blessings. One year after we moved to Canada and started Fellowship Pickering, I received a message from a friend that the new pastor of the church in Mississippi found a set of diamond rings in the dishwasher of the church’s parsonage. I was reunited with my lost rings after 3 long years and I felt God saying, “Lesson learned. Carry on.”
If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are some practical steps.
- Ask God to forgive your lack of passion to see the lost saved.
- Read the gospels and the book of Acts, get inspired.
- Start an oikos map. And, pray over the lost in your life daily.
- Practice sharing the gospel and your testimony.
- Be bold and take opportunities to share your faith.
I love this prayer guide that uses scripture to pray for the lost: http://www.kingdompraying.com/assets/PDF/Scripture_Prayers_For_The_Lost.pdf
Has God ever used a hard lesson in your life to teach you a big truth? What did you learn? What was your reward for obedience? I would love to hear your story in the comments!
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