We are so excited to share our February series with you about discipleship. Today, we are going to talk about a real life example as Sarah shares about a high school friendship that has molded the woman she has become - all because one woman chose to invest in the girl that was once sitting beside her in choir class. Enjoy!
Growing up in church, you hear a certain string of vocabulary words. “Church words” you might say. Grace, love, prayer, salvation, righteousness, mercy, etc. More likely than not, the context in which you’ve heard these words has probably been within the walls of a church building or in the lines of a religious book.
When I was a kid, I can remember sitting in Sunday School and being asked about these words. My teachers would ask “What does ‘grace’ mean to you?” or “How would you describe ‘mercy?’” For this blog post, I can’t think of any better way to address the topic of discipleship than to ask the question, “What does the word ‘discipleship’ mean to you?”
Discipleship can mean so much and be packaged in so many different ways. The word makes my mind go in a million directions. I think of community—specifically the community that was closest to Jesus. His disciples were His right-hand guys. They spent time with Him, knew Him deeply and were poured into by Him. I think about the Great Commission—God’s command for us to make disciples of all nations. I think of friends who have been involved in discipleship programs, having the chance to meet weekly or monthly with someone anxious to mentor them in their walk with Christ.
Though these examples come to my mind, if you could see my heart, you’d know that the realest example of discipleship in my life has been one person.
I met Emily Sanders (at the time she was Emily Johnson) during my freshman year of high school. I met her through a significant other (take a minute to laugh at some of your old high school flames…you’re welcome) but at the time, had no idea how significant of a role she would play in my life. Emily is the type of person everyone aspires to be. Her love for the Lord and His people shines through everything she does. She is unapologetically herself. She has the ability to put a smile on anyone’s face and possesses a capacity to love like no one I have ever known. She oozes Jesus and it is infectious.
My sophomore and junior years of high school brought with them challenges that I never expected to be faced with. Looking back now, I can say that these were the first times that my faith was ever truly tested. They were times when I had to make decisions about who I was in Christ and whether or not I was willing to trust Him with my future, regardless of the circumstances I was in. The Lord used Emily throughout those two years to speak truth and wisdom into my life. Her actions were like blueprints for me; a set of instructions I could follow, teaching me how to be a woman after Christ and not after the world. During those times I needed help. I needed encouragement, support, and someone to remind me how to take practical and continuous steps toward Jesus. Emily was that person, and I have no doubt that God placed her in my path for that purpose.
Here I am, almost 5 years on the opposite side of those faith-testing trials, and Emily continues to embody discipleship in my life. Do we have the chance to meet weekly and dig into the word or pray together? Unfortunately, no. In fact, she and her sweet family have recently made the move to Portland, Oregon, so our time together is as limited as ever. But God has shown me over and over again through my friendship with Emily that He can use willing hearts to pour into others from anywhere. Isn’t that what discipleship is? A constant pouring out and filling up of believers. Isn’t that what we are called to do? Love Him, serve Him, obey Him, and worship Him. Teach others to do the same. And then allow ourselves to be taught again.
Click the link below to read about Emily’s move to Portland with her family and how they are being used by God to serve His people in the Pacific Northwest!