originally published October 26, 2013
I had a friend in college that taught me what church was in the Flagroom of the old MSC at Texas A&M. As we sat there he looked at me and said, “See Ashley, this is church. Where two or more or gathered.” I remember as a Methodist girl coming from traditions and practices (which I still love and appreciate), I was dumbfounded. I had never really understood that all my interactions with my fellow believers were holy moments or that church could simply be a small gathering of other believers. Recently I wrote him (Facebook messaged to be exact) to thank him. His way of thinking changed my life in college. And often I think of the things he taught me: home church, baptism of the Holy Spirit, interpretation of dreams etc. Life in the Simple. We both briefly mentioned in our quick messages that we are married with kids and really just doing life. He and his wife have incredible photography talent and participate in their local community. Ross and I work in healthcare, lead a life group and love on our girls and our friends and family.
I think I thought in college that we would all be on opposite sides of the world boldly claiming Jesus to other people. And we kind of are. Some of us are on the other sides of the world. Some of us are on the other side of the USA. Some of us are on other sides of Texas. And some of us are on other sides of the city.
And it all matters.
I don’t say this defensively. I say this because a piece of me would love to be asked by the Lord to go somewhere else. Deep in my soul, being real here, I think I’d be doing more for Jesus if I was doing what some of my friends are doing all over the world. I think maybe our life would be more holy. We support friends all over that are doing mission work elsewhere. Friends that I love and believe God is using. Two families I think of are in the same season of us with toddlers witnessing and loving in a city of unrest and another is truly “roughing it” in the heat of the jungle. I have days where I believe in my heart that I am missing out on some of the Lord because we are not in a far-off land. Am I holy?
I like Facebook for a few reasons. I get to keep up with the beautiful ministry that other friends are a part of. Last night the Lord really hit me with thankfulness for some friends who have faithfully served in youth ministry over the years. Now that I have kids, I am super thankful for the people who are loving on our youth so well and being Jesus to them. Here at our church, we have several families who are the strongest missionaries I know – 2 of the dads are teachers and one dad is a lawyer. These people are LOVING JESUS and LOVING OTHERS right here in Fort Worth and changing lives. They have been for years.
I have a certain group of friends from college and try to reunite at the beginning of every year. It is a precious time for me. First these people know me. But more than that, I love that when we all gather together, it is so clear to me that we are being used where we are. One friend faithfully serves with children’s ministry and another middle school boys (peace be with him). Another friend and her husband are a part of the local church and he is coaching sports and they are loving their kids and raising them to know and love Jesus. Another friend has recently followed a dream to the Northwest and I am so excited for her and for the town she lives. They just got a little more of Jesus and the Spirit with her move. And every year I can tell that we all know and love Jesus more and our sphere of influence has grown. Makes me smile every time.
I think sometimes I forget that each person matters in the world.
I tend to think in people groups or countries. I think about being a missionary to a land or to a people group. And there have been missionaries that have reached entire people gropus. But there is still that same cashier at the neighborhood Wal-Mart that doesn’t know Jesus, or that one neighbor that is overwhelmed by her life, or that one co-worker that you want to speak life into, or that one man a the corner who might really just need a meal, or that group of people at the bus stop that need to know that Jesus sees them. And those people are everywhere.
Many years ago when Ross and I were first married and really trying to learn how to live life together, a sweet, precious sister and friend spoke a picture of us. We were in a battle and we were horseback and there were people everywhere. And there were people up ahead of us on the frontlines going for it – slaying the bad guys and fighting for life for all. And we were way far back…and we were riding through the masses looking for injured, hurt and even casualties. We were picking them up and healing them. I wept through this picture almost 7 years ago and still do today. That’s us. That’s what the Lord wants for us. Man, He loves us. And He is using us.
We are in a season where we would like for a few things to look different but the Lord has not asked us to change anything and any obvious direction we could move, we don’t have peace. It has been a bit frustrating for us. We feel like change is needed but forcing change never goes well (at least initially.) People, leaders, keep saying that we are faithful. We have heard faithful for months and we are at some point saying to each other, “Faithful. Great, we’re faithful. Can’t something change because we have been faithful.” But we keep asking and trust that faithful is where the Lord has us and wants us.
I look back on the last 6 1/2 years of marriage and it is holy. We are missionaries. Here in Fort Worth Texas on Piedmont Rd. And often we have to recalibrate because living in America with all of it’s first-world junk takes a perspective shift and recalibration often. Thankfully we go to a church that helps us do that daily. And we are listening to the Lord. And we are super thankful for those that are on the frontlines whether that be here in Fort Worth or the Middle East or Africa or Europe. Wherever that may be, your obedience is necessary and beautiful!
We have open hands and hearts. And if he asked us to LOVE HIM and LOVE OTHERS somewhere else, we would. And the travelling girl in me would be SO excited. But right now, I am so humbled that He would ask me to ride horseback with my first-aid kit and heal and love here in Fort Worth Texas.
And when I think of all the people that I shared life with and went to college with and do life with now…I am SO proud. Everyone is really LOVING GOD and LOVING OTHERS in all the beautiful places God has called them to. It is so beautifully holy.