"No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us." 1 John 4:12
She was my girl who could never remember my name. She'd started calling me Mrs. Shasta after the name of my cabin, a name I constantly cheered throughout the day. I'd happily agreed to the name, requesting a slight modification to the title.
I had come back from my weekly day off just before cabin worship and bedtime. Now I had just turned the lights out, an indication that all talking should cease. But one of my kids was calling me. I crouched down next to her bunk. "Yeah?"
"I'm glad you're back."
"I'm glad to be back with you, sweetie."
"No, I mean, I'm really glad you're back. I didn't go all the way up the giant swing today, and if you'd been here I think I would've."
"It's ok. You went as far up as you felt safe going. And you did it! That's what counts. That's awesome!"
She shifted in her sleeping bag. "I almost didn't do it. I was too scared. But then I remembered your face and how you helped me at BMX, and I did it."
I smiled. "Way to go, girly. I'm excited to do the activities with you tomorrow. But for now we need to get some slee--"
"You know, you're kinda like God to me." I gave a small chuckle as she continued. "I just thought of you, and I felt better."
"Sometimes God is easiest to see and feel when we experience Him in others. His love and His strength and His courage become more real to us when we see them reflected in other people."
"Uh huh. I missed you. Thank you for coming back."
"Glad to be back, sweetie. Now let's go to sleep."
There's a lot of irony as to when this exchange took place this summer. But I'll get to that on another occasion.
I didn't have any grand, teary, Friday night conversion experience with my girls this summer, a little different than the last two years. And I'm ok with that. Instead I had conversations about predestination while getting ready for bed. I had girls requesting me to intensely pray about dismal situations at home. I had "I love you more" wars with my cabin on the way to activities. And as I research and ponder and imagine what mission work looks like to me, whether in a primitive land or at a summer camp, I keep boiling it down to just two simple things.
First, I'm going to enjoy what I believe. I'm going to enjoy God. I'm going to enjoy what His salvation story looks like in my life. Because it really is quite fantastic.
Then, I'm going to love people. I'm going to love all kinds of people in all sorts of ways. And I'm going to enjoy it, because it's something I believe in.
Really, God can take it from there. I'll just follow His lead. I mean, if I'm asked to give Bible studies or a sermon or what have you, I'll very gladly do it. I by no means intend to be silent about the one I call Lord. But honestly, I don't want to be called a Soul Winner. That title makes me cringe, and I think it makes the "Winnees" cringe, too.
I think people today would much rather be invited to a party than be sought out as quarry. If I'm finding true life to the full within what I have chosen to believe, and if someone finds that appealing, then there is a beautiful, open avenue for good news to be shared. Telling people repeatedly that the Christian lifestyle is the way to go is nothing close to physical evidence of what such a lifestyle is like.
Some people call it friendship evangelism. I think I'd like to just call it friendship. No hidden agendas. If you like what you see, feel free to join the movement. If you don't, let's just enjoy the friendship. I'll cheer for you as you go up the giant swing. And if you see God in that, well, it makes sense. He can be kind of hard to dim at times. That's one of the things I enjoy about Him.