May 7, 2012

Book Review: Godspeed by Britt Merrick

When our eldest son was five years old he underwent the first of a series of surgeries to help correct chronic hearing loss. A simple surgery—one that is very common today—but a first for us. I remember sitting anxiously in the waiting room, praying earnestly nothing would go wrong. So many things can that first time under anesthesia. I was a nervous wreck. And I remember wondering in awe and sorrow how the parents of chronically ill children live this way.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be told my five-year-old had a tumor taking up over fifty percent of the abdominal wall. To be told that my five-year-old has stage three cancer and would have to undergo months of chemotherapy.  To be told the tumor was gone, only to have it return. That’s what happened to Britt Merrick and his wife, Kate. In September of 2009, the Merricks were summoned to their daughter Daisy’s school after she suffered a fall. Subsequent tests found the tumor. Daisy is currently battling the third occurrence of the tumor and she needs our prayers.

I listened to a sermon Britt Merrick gave just one week after Daisy’s first tumor was discovered. The news was still tender and he fought to keep his composure. But one of the first things he said was this:

“What do you do as a Christian when the doctor says your five-year-old has cancer? How do you deal with that? As a people of God, who know God, where do we go? Immediately, if you are a Christian, your mind goes to Jesus…”

He encouraged his congregation to saturate themselves in the Word of God so that during times of trouble it would be readily available to comfort them. That’s what he and his family have done. And it makes me want to hear more from this man of God.

When I was asked to review Britt Merrick’s new book, Godspeed: Making Christ’s Mission Your Own, I never expected to encounter such a powerful witness. In Godspeed, Merrick talks about incarnational Christianity—about being the love of Christ to the world. A Christian’s entire life is the mission trip, he says. And that’s what Godspeed is about—what it means to live on mission.

We need to change the way we think of mission, Merrick says. For most Christians, to live missionally means to invite people to church. We do this, he says, because our underlying assumption is that Jesus is found at church. But do we not find Jesus in other places too?

…True Christian mission is bringing Jesus to people wherever people are, outside our church buildings...From God’s perspective, there’s no divide between the sacred and the secular. The incarnation makes this abundantly clear, because when Jesus was born, the sacred invaded the secular…Jesus was both fully secular and fully sacred, fully man and fully God. This confronts the unbiblical division we make in our lives when we separate the daily from the divine…

This is something we’ve long recognized here at The High Calling. From our culture series Everything Matters, to the rich celebration of the different roles that play out in family life, to stories of making our traditional work roles a way to tell the Gospel…We get what Britt Merrick is saying here. Your work is sacred. Whether that means clocking into a cubicle or matching up socks. The way we live the moments of our lives matters to God. It just so happens that most people spend many of those moments engaging in their life work. All the more reason to better understand what it means to live life on mission.

We see in the New Testament that Christ did most of His ministry and mission where people spent most of their time—at work. This evidence rings in our ears, because the life of the typical, modern American church is flipped. The place Christ worked most often, in the midst of the culture of the day, is the very place that American Christians have most often evacuated.

This is a book about listening to the Holy Spirit, about praying, and about seeking those who need the good news of Jesus the most. It’s about making an impact right where God has sent you.

Wherever you are now, wherever you spend the majority of your time—that is your mission field. This is what it means to recapture our sense of sent-ness. Where you are and whatever you are doing—you were sent there.

Praying for you and Daisy and your family, Britt Merrick. Praying for you on this very hard mission where you are right now.

Godspeed: Making Christ’s Mission Your Own will be released by David C. Cook Publishers on June 1, 2012. You can pre-order the book here. If you’d like to read more about Daisy’s story, visit Pray for Daisy.

Image by Mo Riza. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr. Post by Laura J. Boggess.

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