In discipleship, we invite others to be intentional about living three dimensionally, Up-In-and-Out: Up – pursuing a relationship with God, In – investing deeply in a few relationships, and Out – engaging in advancing God’s Kingdom. Usually, people are comfortable with one or two of those dimensions. But the third, the uncomfortable third, is essential for growth as a disciple. For me, the uncomfortable third is Out. Not everyone is the same. For some it’s Up or In. But going out – that’s mine! But every time I do it, every time I go Out, my life is enriched!
Two weeks ago, Heather and I took our “downtown huddle” – that’s Daniel, Becca, and their son Micah, on a prayer walk. It was a cold Sunday morning in Jax – in the forties. We walked from First Presbyterian Church, where we meet, down to the Sulzbacher Center and then backtracked to Hemming Plaza. A prayer walk, if you are with the term, is simply walking and praying. The way we go about it is to begin with a prayer that God will open our eyes to see what he’d like us to see, and an agreement to let God set the agenda. We pray as we see things or get impressions.
As a result, I saw downtown Jacksonville differently. I saw homeless people, their belongings, and their pets – but I expected that. I was buildings that were big and abandoned across the street from buildings that looked impressive and extravagant. To be there as a group was helpful. We helped one another with our different perspectives. To be there with Micah was special. Kids see things we adults just miss. Here’s a sampling of our reflections: Sulzbacher is a place where people can get food. It’s an important shelter that provides food, lodging, and medical care. We had been thinking God was inviting us to volunteer there. But one of our impressions on the walk was that the Sulzbacher center was offered a safe, sanitized environment – but that it was not a place of life. We no longer think God is leading us there. Hemming Plaza, on the other hand, was open, active, and even seemed kind of dangerous. We overheard someone there talking loudly with firends about having a knife handy for potentially dangerous situations. But it seemed full of life. We feel God may be calling us in that direction, but we’re not sure yet. Then we looped back to the church and enjoyed worship.
And the worship seemed a little richer. And the conversation afterward with Becca, Daniel, Micah, and Heather seemed to grow a little more purposeful and adventurous. Our “In” benefited from our going “Out.”
Last weekend, we held our retreat. We organized the weekend around “Up”, “In”, and “Out”. During the Out time, Kent made arrangements for us to go to the local BP Station in Fargo, Georgia, just to bless people. Just he and I went to the BP. We offered to clean windshields, to buy people cups of coffee, and to serve in anyway we could. We got to clean some windshields. No one took us up on the coffee offers. And yes, some people even looked us a little strange. But we had some good conversations. We met Jaquez, an employee at the BP who was certainly a “person of peace” for us. (We washed his car’s windshield when he wasn’t looking!) And we had a good time together and good things to report to the rest of the group.
Now, none of this is very impressive or very hard, really. It was a little uncomfortable. But to use a health analogy, so is working out! It requires being intentional, too. And just as my mind and body respond well to working out, my life of faith seems more vibrant when I go “Out”.
That uncomfortable third dimension: what is it for you? For me, I have to, have to, have to be intentional about doing uncomfortable things that are good for me. I doubt I’m alone in that. So what is it for you? Seriously! Are you willing to be intentional about that uncomfortable thing? You can learn a little more about Up-In-and-Out here. Figure out what it is and let God lead you into it – for the sake of your life and joy, and for the sake of His Kingdom!
And may the Lord bless you on the journey!