Happy FriYAY! Today's delish team journal is written by our DWITW team treasurer, Kaitlyn Carl, as a follow up to her DWITW podcast interview!
Have you ever put a lot of time, effort, and sometimes even money into purchasing ingredients for and laboriously making an extra special, only-going-to-make-this-once-in-your-lifetime, labor of love meal, complete with a fancy dessert? The meal turned out beautifully, just the way you had planned it; you're a beaming hostess feeling truly full of joy for being able to share your love in this way with people you cherish. And then you bring out the dessert, and it's a total flop. You don't even have any ice cream in the freezer for backup. And now there's no perfectly crafted, sweet, chocolatey dish to finish out the dinner. The meal is just...over. And though your kind guests assure you that it's not a big deal and they were too full for dessert anyway, you can't help but feel a tinge of disappointment over the loss of the final portion of your special meal.
That's how I felt when Jill informed me that the last sixteen minutes of our podcast episode were gone; lost forever, no hope of recovery. The conversation at our recording was so organic and unscripted that I can't remember exactly what I said that night. But if I've learned anything in the last six months (and really, over the course of my life), it's that life doesn't always happen exactly the way we plan it, and there's no amount of organizing, strategizing, agonizing, or any other type of -izing that can change that truth. We must take the unexpected in stride, even if it pushes us back a few (hundred) steps. So today, I'll share my answers to the last three questions that Jill asked me the night we originally recorded. I'm sure that the words won't be exactly the same, but I am praying the same prayer concerning them: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14).
If you haven't listened to the podcast yet, you can listen here or on iTunes. It's not necessary to listen in order to understand this journal entry, but having the podcast and the journal together will definitely give you the "whole meal" experience of what God is and has been doing in my life. So go check it out!
Q: What encouragement would you have for someone looking for discipleship relationships in their life?
A: Three things stand out to me as critically important in answering this question:
1) Get involved in your local church. I'm not talking about simply attending, I mean get involved: join a small group, attend the women's Bible study, go on the ladies' retreat. If all you ever do is attend the worship service on Sunday morning and leave as soon as the closing song ends, it will be nearly impossible for you to find someone with whom to enter into a discipleship relationship. And you don't necessarily have to do this alone. Some of my closest relationships with other women are those in which my husband is also close with their husbands. If you're married, being discipled by an older couple can be a pretty awesome thing. Serving alongside your sisters in Christ is another great way to form bonds as you labor together for the Lord.
2) Be real. Be vulnerable. You've got to be vulnerable. You've got to open yourself up. If you do the work of getting involved (small group, Bible study, retreat, etc.) but you never open up to anyone, you're not going to get very far. This doesn't happen overnight, and it's going to happen in different ways and at different speeds for different people, and that's okay. Vulnerability takes time because it requires relationship. Vulnerability takes courage because it exposes you. But vulnerability is rewarding, because when you've shared your true heart with a sister in Christ, you're no longer carrying your burden alone, but together.
3) Pray. As you put into practice involvement and vulnerability, pray that the Lord would show you a women who can partner with you in discipleship. Trust His perfect timing, and walk in obedience with Him as you wait.
Q: What are the barriers you've encountered in discipleship?
A: The biggest barriers I've encountered both in discipling others and in being discipled are priorities and pride. I could probably place any reason I've had or I've been given about discipleship relationships not working out under one of those two categories.
If discipleship isn't a priority to us, then we won't make time for it. We'll be too busy, too stressed, too tired. The relationship has to be a priority to both the discipler and the disciple. If either one of them isn't truly committed to the relationship, it's bound to flounder and, sadly, will often fail.
Pride closes us off from true fellowship with others. If we always want others to have a certain perception of us, never letting them see any of our flaws, we won't make very good disciples or disciplers. It's hard to disciple someone when you will only invite them into your home when it's perfectly clean and the children are behaving angelically. It's impossible to get the care we really need as a disciple if we're always putting up a facade, unwilling to discuss any of our true struggles.
Q: What is God teaching you right now in the Word?
A: When it rains, it pours. And when it pours, it's often difficult to not wonder...why? Even if you're firmly grounded in Christ and rooted in His Word and you know that the storms of life aren't necessarily a result of something that you did, when the ship is sinking and you're getting into the lifeboat, you sometimes can't help but wonder what you did wrong. For me, it's hard at times not to let my mind wander there. And in my most recents storms (hurricanes, really), the Lord led me here:
Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side...He saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them (Mark 6:45a, 48a). John puts it this way: The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing (John 6:18).
Did you catch that? Jesus told His disciples to head across the sea in the boat, and in the midst of obeying Him, they were caught in a storm.
As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him" (John 9:1-3).
Sometimes when unfortunate things happen in our lives, we can look back to a specific decision that we made and see, in hindsight, that we made a poor choice which had negative consequences. Other times, we have no clue. Did you ever consider that it might be for the glory of God to be displayed in you? How amazing to think that, in the midst of suffering, as we faithfully look to Christ and walk with Him through our pain, we are shining His light to a watching world who has no hope beyond the grave, glorifying Him and displaying His work of sanctification and restoration in our hearts and lives.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you...But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings (I Peter 4:12a, 13a). Dear sisters, you better believe that when that's your response to suffering, you need to be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you (I Peter 3:15), because when you live your life like an alien whose home is not this world, you'll be so consumed with the reason for your hope that you'll forget to wonder about the reason for your pain. And maybe that's the point.
Kaitlyn is a wife of 5 1/2 years and a mama to two precious girls. She is a worship leader at her church and a group leader with Bible Study Fellowship. Kaitlyn is passionate about sharing life with others. She loves brunch/lunch/coffee/play dates, over-sized sweatshirts, coloring books, and having to double recipes because her table is surrounded by people.