I’ve been questioning recently my ministry focus. Perhaps you’ve faced similar dilemmas. You think you know what you are called to do in God’s kingdom and then something happens that causes you to question the soundness of this purpose.
I believe I know where I am called and I’ve been quite busy in my little corner of the world. Until recently. Someone close to me challenged me. Am I going out to Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria and sharing the Good News of the Bible with those who do not know?
Let me explain, as a reminder, in Acts 1, we learn of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The faithful remnant were gathered together in Jerusalem for fear of persecution by the Romans for being followers of Christ. Jesus returned after his death and appeared a number of times over the next 40 days to some of them and proved that it was He in a resurrected body.
Finally, He gave them a command in verses 4-8: “And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel? He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:4-8 (NASB77).
So, once again, the question was, “am I being His witness in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria?” For those of you who might not yet have learned what this means, the above scripture has been cited as one of the main purposes for our being: we are to witness or share the truths about Jesus Christ to others in “our town, state, region, and throughout the rest of the world” so that none might be excluded from hearing the Good News of the Bible, that Jesus Christ is the only way into everlasting life.
Yes, this was a quandary for me. I chewed on this for days. I fretted. I stewed. And I wondered if God was in all I do. I asked Him if I was to get involved in another ministry like going to a prison, working at our local schools, perhaps volunteering at a local pregnancy resource center. You see, I am quite active in my local church, I’ve been on short-term missions, and the Lord is my focus in writing. But by and large, my ministry focus is within the church. I cried out to Him, “Lord, am I not doing enough outside my church, am I to take on something outside my current focus?” And God remained mysteriously quiet.
I finally wrote to a trusted friend and mentor, a woman I greatly respect and one whom I knew would speak truth to me. I laid out the dilemma and asked for her opinion. About the time I wondered if my request had been lost in cyberspace, she replied. Her words settled over me like a warm blanket on a very cold night. She felt that often we get caught up in wanting to “work” our way into all God has planned for us. She shared a word from the Lord to her at one time: “If you work, I will rest and if you will rest, I will work on your behalf.” Truth!
I pondered her wise words. I chewed on them. I considered all she said and all I felt I knew to be true. And the days passed. Finally, I knew what God was saying to me: “Open your ears and eyes to My Presence. I will guide you as you go. You are often in too much of a hurry. Slow down and make time for Me to speak or show you the way.”
The other day I was in the grocery store, oblivious to Him, just getting it done so I could move on to the next thing. As I wheeled my cart out the door, I was suddenly impressed with His Presence. I actually stopped dead in my tracks and asked, “Lord, is there someone or something You need me to see or do right now?” I waited perhaps 15 seconds as I looked around the parking lot. I was willing to be used by Him if He were to say so. I didn’t see or hear anything. I came to understand that this was an exercise for me, that He wanted me to be aware of Him and to await His instruction. And as quickly as I felt Him near I then felt released to move on.
My friend’s word from the Lord became my word from the Lord. “If you work, I will rest but if you rest, I will work on your behalf.” I am to be aware always, in the church and out, of His Presence. When I’m tuned into His Presence, He will bring opportunities for me to speak of Him. All I need to do is wait (rest) on Him. He will do the rest; He always has, He always will. It is, therefore, so important that we be moving as we wait for His Presence!
As Timothy shared, we are “…to preach the Word of God urgently at all times, whenever you get the chance, in season and out, when it is convenient and when it is not…” 2 Timothy 4:2a (TLB)
This is dedicated to a wonderful and wise woman of God, who I am blessed to call my friend; you know who you are. Thank you for helping me learn who I am in Him!