“Out of the mud and out of the mire, He put a new song in my voice - a song of praise.” Psalm 40:1
Fifteen years ago, my life was changed because someone decided to love me when I was in “the trenches.”
At age 18 I found myself in Abbotsford, BC to “get away from it all” after I had been charged with impaired driving. I knew Bible school was the only thing my parents would pay for, so I took the free ticket even though Bible classes were not on my agenda.
I intentionally chose a school right beside the mountains, which meant snowboarding! However, mountains without snow are just something pretty to look at. So there I was, looking out of my Bible school window, the first year in a century where BC had no snow! God must have been chuckling.
I stayed in my room for two weeks and, annoyingly, two female students would knock on my door every day inviting me out of my hibernation. They loved me in my worst, shared their Christian humor with me that I found strange, and did not make me a project. (I now know that God sent these women into my life to display His love for me when I could not receive it from Him.)
I came home eight months later with no advancement in my snowboarding skills, but a definite joy that cannot really be described other then ... it was supernatural. I was transformed in both character and outlook on life. From that day on I decided I wanted to be for others what these two women had been for me. I wanted to be a discipler!
I joined a church, attended a cell group (small Bible study) and eventually became the leader.
What Discipleship Looks Like
God has taught me that discipleship is a lifestyle. It’s kind of like a casserole dinner where you can’t separate discipleship from life. It’s no TV dinner!
I have had the privilege of leading the same girls for seven years. When they were teenagers, I would take them to do normal things with me like grocery shopping. I even taught them how to fill up with gas! They got to see how I treated the cashier at superstore or how I responded in a traffic jam. With us now having kids, the girls have helped me with bedtime routines after cell group. I love that discipleship entails showing not just teaching. For example, “you can do the diaper change ... and you can do the story time”.
For the last 4 years my husband Dan and I have embarked on the challenge of community living and have lived with 13 different young adults (4-5 females per year). That’s a lot of estrogen! While they have their own kitchen and living space, we share an entrance and regularly live communally.
It a bit like living in a fishbowl. A fishbowl life has no secrets. A fish can see out of its fishbowl but likewise those on the outside of the bowl can see in. Our marriage, parenting and lifestyle are quite exposed. They know that Dan and I argue (yet sometimes dance through the house when resolved) (or unresolved). They know I sometimes ask my toddler to give me 5 minutes without talking. They know that I vacuum at odd hours when I am overwhelmed. They know that we don’t watch much tv and we go to bed early (because good devotions start the night before).
Dan and I have found that our faith has grown most by letting others see into our lives. Our public and private lives simply collide.
The Foundation of Discipleship
I have learnt the hard way, that discipleship and loving people without regular time with Jesus is a remedy for burn out. (Never mind operating out of the flesh not the spirit). For years, God allowed me to have a fruitful ministry without having a deep relationship with Him. One day I’ll have to ask Him about this in heaven!
When one of my cell members passed away in 2010, I hit a wall in my faith. My foundation was shaken because all my energy was coming out of my “success,” not the word and prayer. In this season I almost quit it all.
I now choose to fight for a devotional life. And it is a fight! With two young kids this is one of my biggest challenges! A mindset that has helped me, is that a personal walk with God it’s one of the greatest gifts to my spouse and kids. The other day my son Milo noticed that the Bible seems to travel around the house. He said, “this must be your favourite book mom, even better than Franklin.”
The journey of loving people stems from the one who did it the best - our good Father! Whatever style of discipleship God is calling you to continue or to begin... it’s worth it. It’s life giving and it’s hard to stay apathetic when one has a goal of discipleship. A goal of drawing people closer to the King of Kings!
“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
About the Author:
Olivia Hungerford is a wife, a mom, a nurse. She loves to-do lists, pranking her husband, eating in bed, and consuming banana cotton candy (which is really hard to find!). She aspires to live a simple life that’s rich in relationships.
If you would like to send Olivia a message, email firstname.lastname@example.org at put her name in the subject line.
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