The year was 1999 and I had just transferred from one North Carolina University to another. I transferred in part because I decided to change my major to one not offered where I was studying, but it was largely because I was searching...for what I didn’t really know but I was confident I had not found it. I was lost and lonely. Sure, I had some friends, but our relationships were mostly shallow, and I craved more. I grew up in a small town and had never needed to make new friendships, so the concept was new to me. I was used to the kind of friendships that just happened by years of proximity and shared memories on the playground that evolved to memories at middle school dances giving way to memories built at high school football games. They were not deep in the spiritual sense but long on shared experiences. The transition to college was difficult and I felt an aloneness that was new and crushing.
Now, as I sat in a new dorm room, hoping for a different experience, I sensed that I might just have the same problem with different people. Not being one to go down without a fight I decided to join a sorority and while that did add significantly to my social calendar it was like drinking salt water. Immediate gratification that only added to my thirst for something truly satisfying. As I look back, I am grateful for that thirsty season because it led me to The Living Water.
One of my sorority sisters had gotten involved with a ministry on campus and she invited me to go with her to a conference that they were hosting. I went, thirsty but largely unaware of what I committed to attend. It was there that he began to satisfy my thirst...primarily in Himself as he showed me my sin and his grace in tandem. I was overwhelmed by a love that was unlike anything I had known. God knew me and yet loved me. He redeemed me and would never leave me. I was undone in the best way imaginable. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts he gave me was the immediate understanding of how the community of believers would be a well of grace to me as I began this new journey in Christ. I knew I needed them. I knew it because I was lonely and I wanted friends but I also knew that I had no idea how to walk with God and that these people around me, many only a few months or few years ahead of me in their journey, could show me how to drink deeply of God’s Word, live in a way honoring to him and commit my life to His purposes.
One of these “just ahead of me” friends was Kristin. As I look back on our relationship, I see how those early days must have been hard for her. She gave me so much of her time. She walked beside me, modeled the Christian life before me, took me to church and put up with my ignorance and immaturity. She loved me with her prayers, her time, her words and her actions. She did it because she was pouring out what had been poured into her. Just a year earlier she had been the thirsty one, newly satisfied by the gospel of grace, and another woman sacrificially invested in her. That was my first experience with discipleship. In 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul says this to Timothy, “and the things that you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will teach others also.” He did just that and a couple thousand years later the church is still doing that. There are many ways that the church grows their people into Christian maturity but one of the most foundational ways is through discipleship. The commitment of one believer to lead another to the Living Waters of God’s presence through bible study, prayer, accountability, encouragement and instruction. These relationships are not always easy but they are built on far more than shallow interactions and shared experiences. They are built on Christ, his Word and his Spirit working in and through us to bring drink to the thirsty one friendship at a time.
Now, some twenty years later I still get thirsty and I still find myself drinking salt water instead of going to The Living Water. Thanks be to God that he has given me people to lead me back to Him. I have not outgrown my need for discipleship. And I have not completed my task of making disciples. Life has not gotten easier, but I now know where to go to be satisfied and I know I need people to help me on that path. Let’s pray that God always gives us teachers and makes us willing to be one, for His glory and for our everlasting satisfaction in His presence.
Here you can read perspectives on life, ministry and God's Word from a variety of PCC's female leaders.