98-Harnessing The Urban Wilderness
The wild was busting with activity, thousands of creatures each working through their daily routine, making sure that their tasks to survive the harsh environment were to full satisfaction. Uniquely designed by God Himself, each worked hard to keep out of the other’s way, yet work in uniform predictability to ensure that the world continues to run at its status quo. Under an unseasonably warm, sunny sky, I sat patiently, waiting for my opportunity to engage with this crazy world in which I, on occasion visit… this wild in which I speak of is the bustling M-59 or better known by Shelby Township residents, Hall Rd. I made my way off the express way and into a long line of cars, each occupied by a distracted operator, licensed but not professional by any means. I do not exclude myself from this description as I booked an appointment over the phone while watching the light in front of me turn from red to green and I firmly applied pressure to the gas pedal to accelerate my steel and plastic chariot along the dotted white line in a wide left turn onto Hall Rd. Looking at my phone for guidance but only half trusting it (my inner will to abandon all technology tugging at my ego) I made my Michigan left too soon, costing me several minutes if I couldn’t figure out another route. After weaving a vast network of parking lots that intertwined what felt like hundreds of strip malls, I finally put the Saturn in park.
Having engaged with this chaotic world earlier in the day, I armed myself with a deep breath and prayer to my Father in Heaven to work out all the details of the sale of the floor tile that I set out to acquire. So far, it’s taken half of the stores staff to figure out how to get the correct amount of tile for the job at the price I had requested—their spirit was willing, but their computers were weak, too weak to make the system work. As I entered the building and looked around, Zach (I spent enough time in round one to be on a first name basis with half the store) glanced over at me waiting and reminded me, “I remember, don’t worry.” He radioed for Charline, who was walking and talking as she and Adam made their way toward the front of the store. Much like in the actual wilderness, you can learn a lot about your environment if you simply are still, quiet and listen to what’s going on around you. It may be a tree frog you’ve never noticed before, or the sound of small twigs cracking beneath the feet of the creatures that make up the middle ground on the food chain… in this case it was noting that Charline was not having a good day.
“How are you doing Charline?” I asked, always using someone’s name if I know it. She seemed very disarmed and shared that it was okay; not so great earlier but she would manage. I empathized and moved forward with my concerns about my order and how to work out the final steps to get the tile to the store or my home. She was very kind and patent with me and we simply talked about her day while working on an online order. I could have done the online order at home or in my car with my phone, but I share this because I firmly believe that we are unnecessarily isolating ourselves as a culture. Thousands of cars with single occupants, people in lines waiting, surrounded by hurting individuals everywhere—hiding behind the screen that represents the matrix of their image…
We talked for a bit about tile, about the day and big business. In the end I asked her simply if I could pray with her. She obliged and we prayed right then and there. As I thanked her for her time and openness, I turned to the doors that awaited my approach. Looking back, I noticed that Charlene had a tear in her eye so I turned around and went back to ask if she was alright. She briefly shared that the prayer was just what she needed and thanked me for being so bold as to ask and pray. Jen and I are getting ready for deeper training in the area of discipleship. What does it take to pour out our walk with God upon others and encourage them in their journey? What does it take to witness to a stranger?
I’ve been serving the Lord for nearly 30 years and I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve only led a few people to the Lord. The discipleship part has been much better through Project Forty, but I’m not satisfied. We live in a hurting world who are hungry to know the truth. Many may reject it, sure, but many will explore it with you and encounter the Creator of the universe if you will go there with them. Praying for just about everyone I encounter has become more of a habit in my life than not. And honestly, 98% of the time it’s well received but it took some practice on my part to overcome the fear associated with verbally sharing my faith. The world needs us believers to simply share our story and God’s story. Project Forty is about discipleship, mainly disciples making disciples, and I want to encourage you to step out and begin the disciple-making process in your own sphere of influence. Ask God to inject you with boldness to simply talk to people instead of checking your phone. Or to listen to what’s going on around you at the store. My wife has said, “Be present.” It’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received and now I pass that on to you. Please, let me know how you have shared your story with someone this week, month or year… I would love to hear about it!