Lawn Chair Catechism Intro: On Discipleship & A “Lived” Relationship with God

Today marks an exciting day over at CatholicMom.com — the launch of our summer “Lawn Chair Catechism” series, a study of Sherry Weddell’s awesome book Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following JesusI find myself in the enviable position of being a “follower” in this situation, with my dear friends Sarah Reinhard and Jennifer Fitz taking the lead on this group learning initiative. What this means for me is that I can actually pray my way through this online retreat rather than having to hold the reigns. Those of you who work in ministry of any kind know what an oddity this is — we’re used to controlling, to organizing, to making sure things go well for everyone else. When relieved of those duties, it may take us a while to let go, to relax, to give thanks for the opportunity.

This morning, I took myself to a local coffee shop and treated myself to a dark roast and an hour with Sherry Weddell and this awesome book. I overcame the temptation to forge ahead, and decided instead after reading the book’s introduction to go with the program and to simply spend a good amount of time in prayer and reflecting upon this week’s reflection questions:

In your own faith:

  • How would you describe your lived relationship with God to this point in your life?
  • What does the word “discipleship” mean to you?  Do you perceive a need in the Church today to help lay Catholics become more fervent followers of Jesus Christ?

In your parish:

  • How would you describe your parish’s current efforts at discipleship?  A hotbed of discipleship?  A weekly gathering of spiritual sleep-walkers?  Or perhaps something in between?

As an employee of my parish, I’m electing not to dive into the “In your parish” questions before having a conversation about the topic with my pastor. But I did spend a good long time with those “In your own faith” questions. In reality, they took me back a little bit to what I wrote here yesterday on following Jesus. Maybe this study is God’s way of getting my attention…

I’d prefer that much of what I pondered this morning remain private, but I thought I’d share a bit on the very first question above — I’d invite you to do the same.

How would you describe your lived relationship with God to this point in your life?

I have God on “speed dial”. My prayers, sprinkled throughout the course of daily life in a very conversational fashion, center frequently around themes of intense gratitude and motherly pleas for the health and well-being of my sons. Sprinkled in there are prayers for anything and everything, big and small:

  • Lord, help those suffering from ____ (name latest horrific natural disaster)
  • Father, be with ____ who has asked for my prayers. You know this situation — be with ___ in their time of need.
  • OK God, help me out here. How in the heck do I solve ____?!
  • Thanks Jesus, you rock. I can’t believe how you were with me in the midst of ____
  • ETC….

When I think about how frequently I converse with the heavenly Father who I’m sure hears and answers, I’m reminded of this classic scene from Bruce Almighty.

The older I get, the more I “crave” closeness to God. That craving has instilled within me a strong desire to be united with God, truly present, in the Eucharist. My happiest days are the ones that find me organized enough to attend daily Mass at our Cathedral, a lovely sacred space where God’s presence infuses my soul with such intensity that I’m often moved to tears.

But he’s not present only in that sanctuary. My “lived relationship” with him finds me sensing him at the gym, in the market, in front of my clothes dryer, in the faces of groups I speak to, and even in the warmth of my bed as my husband — the partner he ordained for me — slumbers next to me. In so many moments, if I pause long enough to count the enormity of my many blessings, my love for this “Abba” who has showered me with love so abundantly can barely be contained.

Yes, there are the days where I’m head down, working away and realize midway through the morning that I haven’t even yet said, “Hello” to God. In reality, there are more of those than I’d care to admit. But never do I doubt his presence, his living, breathing, endless love for every hair of my head. When the going gets tough, that sense of him — in control so that I don’t have to be — assures me that even if the end results aren’t what I would have desired, he is the master of my destiny.

I have much to learn about how to turn the intensity of this lived relationship into the lifestyle and actions of a worthy “intentional disciple“. For that reason, I can’t wait to watch the weeks of Lawn Chair Catechism unfold in my own life. I invite you to be a part of this summer-long goodness and welcome your comments here or at CatholicMom.com.

A question for you: How would you describe your lived relationship with God to this point in your life?

About Lisa M. Hendey

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms.

  • http://www.snoringscholar.com/ Sarah Reinhard

    Well, maybe I’m too comfortable with him. Sometimes I wonder if the casual finger I flick his way (ahem, yes, it IS the pointer, NOOOOT) is borderline.

    Then again, there’s part of me that’s really comfortable with him. And for me, that speaks of love in a way that few things can.

    I’m still parsing through what my relationship with God is and what it means, but I really, really enjoy your answers to this. :)

    • lisahendey

      Good thing you clarified that it’s the pointer!!

      Again, thank you for this gift. And parsing is good, right?!

      • http://www.snoringscholar.com/ Sarah Reinhard

        Wellll….yessss. :)

  • askingquestion

    I don’t know. I think he wants you to be comfortable with him. As long as you have those stunning moments when you realize who he is to you, and you wish to do what he wants you to do so much that you will sit and listen and change your plans to suit what he says. He talks to you in Scripture, prayer and the Church. You talk back with your life and your prayers in their entirety.

  • michigancatholic

    Thank you for doing this study.

  • Deanna Bartalini

    I also crave closeness with him; I am always thrilled when I am the only person in the Adoration Chapel so I can have Jesus all to myself. Selfish I know.

  • Nancy Ward

    Yes, I can relate to drawing closer to him each day, at least desiring to do that. He honors that desire and gives the grace and the time to walk with him. Intentional disciples can strive to intentionally put him in control in as many ways as possible in their lives, they don’t have to be!


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