GPS, or SatNav for ‘real’ English speakers, is a beautiful thing, especially when set to ‘find shortest route.’ To save even one mile, you may travel twenty miles on secondary roads through gorgeous, bucolic countryside which you would never have discovered without the aid of your computerized friend. It’s an adventure. At every turn in the road there is more delight with quaint, small towns unchanged for decades, century-old homes surrounded by pristine landscaping, and further along, lush farmlands, farmhouses, cattle, sheep, goats, horses, hay, wheat, and other crops. Granted, it is slower than churning out the miles on a major highway, but far more interesting, far more picturesque. Someone is known to have quipped about the US Interstate Highway system: ‘it’s the way to get from coast to coast without seeing anything.’
Life is a journey, too, with discoveries around every bend, every day. And our discipleship is a journey, too, with plenty of the unexpected included, just waiting for us to show up on the scene. It’s how we show up that matters. I’m thinking of the two broad categories of human personality: introvert and extrovert. The first get their batteries recharged by alone time, in solitude, in unhurried, unscheduled, leisure time. Once re-energized by time alone they can engage with depth and sincerity with a small group or gathering. They are less at ease with small talk and the frivolous, preferring heart-to-heart sharing. This is how they show up. The second are charged up by being with large groups of people, interacting, socializing, laughing and enjoying the happy chaos of rooms abuzz. They easily engage strangers, striking up conversations naturally and invitingly. Their high energy, open demeanor and excellent eye contact make even spontaneous encounters into things of memorable joy. This is how they show up.
In sticky, painful, or emotionally laden situations, the challenge for introverted disciples is to be aware when their ‘auto-defense mode’ kicks in, prompting them to want to avoid the spotlight, to evade the pointing fingers, to distance themselves from the fray, to disappear. Their absence, their silence in giving in to the temptation, would be an absence and a silence of the very Gospel message they are commissioned to announce. They need to learn to lean in to their felt resistance, ask for the Father’s perspective, remember their commitments, then confidently mediate through, if at all possible, to a win-win solution. It’s then that their showing up really counts.
In those same situations, the challenge for extroverted disciples is to be aware of their competitive tendency, their want to win, prompting them to take control, to get loud, to ‘enter in where angels fear to tread,’ to go into ‘ready-fire-aim’ mode, to overwhelm. Their driven intervention, their volume, their giving in, would eclipse the very Gospel message they are commissioned to announce. They need to learn to take a step back, take time to carefully assess, remember their commitments, slow down enough to see the big picture, then use their strengths to guide the issue, if at all possible, through to a win-win solution. It’s then that their showing up really counts.
What a blessing to have, in Jesus, the example par excellence, of what a disciple is, what a disciple does! What a thrill to have the Holy Spirit as our constant guide along this road, this journey! What reassurance that there ‘remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.’ Romans 8:1, TPT. What further reassurance that, ‘if we freely admit our sins when his light uncovers them, he will be faithful to forgive us every time.’ 1 John 1:9, TPT. And one last bit of reassurance, this time from Jesus himself: ‘never forget that I am with you every day, even to the completion of this age.’ Matthew 28:20, TPT. I think I’ll choose to enjoy the scenic route. More, tomorrow at 10 AM, 4 PM FR. PD