I don’t mean to brag, but I am the most famous of any author’s characters that you’ll never hear about.
Sometimes it annoys me that no one knows who I really am. I mean, who can forget some of these lines that I’ve penned? Incredibly famous lines like “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Or, how about this one? “It was a dark and stormy night…” One of my personal favorites was the set up line for Rhett Butler. “For a moment he hesitated, as if debating whether a kind lie were kinder in the long run than the truth.” Moments later, the famous line…” My dear, I don’t give a damn.”
I was 11 when I first met her.
Never before had I met anyone so misshapen. Nima had severe arthritis. Every joint in her body was swollen and knobby, her hands were gnarled and twisted, she walked with a slow uneven gait. In my 11-year old eyes it seemed she must be very old, although in reality she was probably only in her mid 40s. I didn’t know it then, but years later I would look back and say –
“When I grow up I want to be like Nima.”
It was truly beautiful, a wonderful forest in the midst of the city. But as I walked my uneasiness grew. I had no idea where I was and I had not told anyone where I was going…
A number of years ago, I moved to the Portland area and immediately set out to learn my way around my new home. Sunday afternoons were devoted to taking my map and finding someplace new to explore. One week, I heard that the arboretum was sponsoring a “fall colors” walk in Forest Park so that became my destination that Sunday afternoon.
I found the park and I found the clearly marked starting point. I began walking, enjoying the cool fall day and the beauty of God’s creation. There were many side trails but I followed the signs that the arboretum had put in place.
On a mountain top in the Galilean countryside, Jesus gathered his small rag-tag group of followers for one of the last times on this earth. He had spent the previous three years pouring into them. He taught them to pray. He taught them grace. He taught them forgiveness.
Now in His last moments, instead of teaching, He is giving.
He gives His disciples a gift. It’s a gift for them and everyone who will eventually follow in their steps. He prefaces the gift by reminding us that He has all authority and He is summoning that authority to give us the greatest gift He could give – Mission.
Matthew 28:18-19 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
You have a mission. I have a mission. That mission is the Father’s mission, which we now share. What is the mission? It is making disciples.