Is your life a panorama of blue skies, a sea of calm waters? Is your life a plethora of disjointed principles, a confusion of problems?
To borrow a few questions from my brother: Do you think you’re on the mountain top or in the valley? Or, do you feel like you are skiing freely down the mountain into the valley, or like you are struggling up that mountain, sometimes feeling overwhelmed by the weighty pack on your shoulder and the incline yet to be scaled?
Are you missing the glories of your present season because it is hard, uncomfortable and inconsistent with the dreams that you have for yourself?
Yet, what if your life is more than what happens to you and how you perceive it? What if all of it really did make sense for the beauty it presents to anyone who can see God even in the subtleties we often dismiss in personal hardships and trials? What would we see if we pulled out and asked God to share with us His lens on our world?
If my concern is about the success of my ministry it is most likely born of a concern for my success. Ministry is not about the success of me or what am I doing. As obvious as this sounds, this perspective does not come to me naturally. I need to be presented with the truth again and again until it wears down my pride and lets me see Christ above all my own personal claims to acclaim.
If everything I am, and everything I do is His work, being meant to point me and everyone who knows me back to Him, then I really don’t figure so greatly in the ministry He conducts through me. If I want everyone observing me to see God from beginning to end, then some of my concentration has to be adjusted. Questions that naturally come to my mind like the following have to be reconstructed:
How did I look?
How do I feel now?
How many rewards do I see?
How has what happened benefited me?
God is welcoming me to become a top functioning organ of His body that lends my best to all the other members. I must not still His hand or the work of His Spirit through me by drawing undue attention to the empty vessels that He chooses to work through.
Therefore, my primary questions in evaluating anything of my life — not the least of which would be personal ministry and influence — should come from an entirely different interest. I must begin and end with God if I should hope that others should exhorted to do the same by their interactions with me:
How did God work to perform this miracle?
How did His Spirit affect hearts (mine being first)?
How is the word of the cross turning us all to His truth?
How is God revealing evidence of the advance His kingdom?
How can what I do under the guidance of Your hand be pure and without spot? How can my thoughts and intent be in agreement with the holy purposes by which You dictate my obedience? Only You can convert my heart through Your Word; it’s truth takes hold of me and instructs me in the way of Life — the way that none can travel but with You.
How can a young person live a clean life?
By carefully reading the map of your Word.
I’m single-minded in pursuit of you;
don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.
I’ve banked your promises in the vault of my heart
so I won’t sin myself bankrupt.
Be blessed, God;
train me in your ways of wise living.
I’ll transfer to my lips
all the counsel that comes from your mouth;
I delight far more in what you tell me about living
than in gathering a pile of riches.
I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you,
I attentively watch how you’ve done it.
I relish everything you’ve told me of life,
I won’t forget a word of it.
i don’t know about you, but I struggle with keeping God the main thing in my life. One of my great pitfalls is in glorying in the potential of ministry more than the One who is the purpose of ministry. I forget that this work is not an end in itself, and that there is no point in expending myself here if it is not all for relating the Minister to everyone who needs Him to minister to them.
God has been speaking to me on this theme recently, and He’s included a few tips for His needy “ministers” — each of us who functions as a type of the Master we want to communicate to others:
Don’t get discouraged if no one seems to be impressed with the goals God has placed in your heart or the efforts you are expending to bring them to fruition. Believe, instead, that God knows how to make testing work for our good just as well as happy progress.
Don’t make the mistake of setting your hopes upon the ministerial progress you experience in the Lord’s service — when you find little increase to boast in you will be grieved unnecessarily.
Don’t wake up in the morning with no greater thought than what reinforcement you will receive from the community you serve. You will criple God’s ability to bless you and use what you day this day.
Don’t pass over the joys and sorrows of your colleagues and counselies — ministry blossoms in the hearts of hurting that God sees and longs to heal today.
Don’t neglect to reflect on your own brokeness and need for the Holy Spirit to minister to you daily and specifically for any grace to pour forth from your vessel.
Don’t look forward to the praise you will receive with the expectation of making as much out of it as you can — don’t be intent on dragging out your thank-yous with since-you-noticed comments. No one is here simply to notice and congratulate you for being you. Be content with the privilege you have in beholding evidence of people being reconciled to God through His Son — whether He used you to make the introduction or not.
Enjoy what you get to do before God first and foremost for the experiences it gives you in fellowshiping with Him. There is no greater mark to your life than that God intervenes in it and ever expands your relationship with Him.