A Note from Lifeway Girls: Do you know that anticipation and fear that often accompanies starting a new group? Have you ever questioned whether or not you have the time to pour into girls? Do you ever wonder if discipling your girls even matters? I think we can all relate to Lindsey’s story today of how in the midst of our small moments of surrender and obedience through discipleship, God is writing a much bigger story than we can ever imagine.
I remember sinking into the familiar red fabric of my living room chair. My insides churned a bit. I anticipated the doorbell but tried to quiet my mind. I prayed over the chairs soon to be filled. Would they even come?
The doorbell rang and five of the bravest, young women I know walked through the front door. On the other side of that day, I thank them often for their courage. They did not know me. They were in different circles of friends at school. They were in different grades—which is largely another world by high school standards. They showed up: willing to learn, humble enough to be led, not insisting on being in control. They just showed up.
At first glance, many would assume I was sacrificing my time for these young women. At first glance, I was the teacher and they were the students. At first glance, I was asked to lead and received thanks at the end of each week. And maybe that is all true of a first glance, but if so, the first glance lacks vision. The first glance misses the full story God wrote and continues to write in my life through discipleship.
We laugh at that first night now. The conversation was forced at times. The laughter then was more for filling holes than as a response to humor.
I’m not sure what everyone thought walking away from the table that first night, but they came back again, and again, and again. They walked side-by-side with our family when we brought our son home through adoption a year later. For six weeks, we took a break from traditional small group meetings for my family to adjust. I had to take a pause from this ministry, but these girls did not miss a beat. I remember one night finding cupcakes on my front porch with the kindest note just to encourage me. While I had the privilege of teaching them about Jesus, they showed me the evidence of Jesus’ love all the time. This was my first introduction to that concept, but wouldn’t be my last interaction, with a time where my “break” from ministry was really an opportunity to receive the great blessing of the ministry of discipleship.
Jesus commands us to “make disciples” by the power of His authority and the promise of His presence (Matt. 28:18-20). Discipleship is HIS idea. Discipleship is HIS ministry. I am responsible for my obedience. I am, sometimes, entrusted with a leadership role, but I am never solely a giver of the gifts of discipleship or the rewards of obedience. I am always, and continually a recipient of His grace.
I am the beneficiary of discipleship.
The details of our family are not the focus of this story, but you do need to know there have been some hard and heavy things in our story the last four years. I only bring this up to give context to the many people who question how I have time for discipleship. I understand their question. Truthfully, I even understand their logic, but thankfully I follow a Savior who parts oceans and moves mountains and never conforms to the logic of this world.
Truthfully, I don’t know how I would have time not to disciple young women. In the last several years, these women:
- Packed up moving boxes and gave my son his first slushie to keep him occupied as the movers loaded up their truck;
- Spent their breaks from school visiting me in our new town and helping with my son while my husband was on work trips;
- Joined us for weekly dinners and cleaned my kitchen while I put my son to bed;
- Sent me more encouraging texts than I can count and reminded me of truth on hard days.
Most recently, after an unexpected medical diagnosis for a family member, I prepared to share the news with them. I took a deep breath. I was ready to be strong, remind them of the hope we have even on the hardest days. Before I could get a word out, one of the girls said “Let’s pray.” We circled up and she prayed one of the most powerful, truth-filled prayers I have ever heard. Their encouragement and support over these last few months feels like grace every single day. And it all began with a meal, one passage of scripture, and six very nervous hearts. Today they remain some of the very dearest people in my life. I will tell you no less than 3 stories about them, if we ever meet in person. Fair warning.
Today we live in a new town (If this story is hard to follow, just know, we move a lot). I meet with a new group of young women. My season of life looks different and so does our group, and that alone has been one of the sweetest gifts from God. He still allows me to be a part in His greater story even when my circumstances changed. I believe He gives every one of us opportunities to make disciples.
We are free to say yes to the moments of simple obedience because we worship the God of complexity and extravagance. He knows where the finish line is. He equips us to finish our race well. For His glory and by His strength, we run, and we rejoice!
Lindsay Smith is a follower of Jesus living in Texas. She is the wife of a football coach and the mom of a precious son, who joined their family through the miracle of adoption. She is a writer, coffee connoisseur, and “expert” shoe shopper. For the last decade, she has been discipling teenage girls and believes God is doing a mighty work in the next generation. Connect with Lindsay: Instagram