There is never a dull moment when you are on mission with Christ. I say that because I have had some time to reflect a little bit over my time in full-time ministry only to be amazed at what God has taught me in it. Take me back to my college years and I had a completely different understanding of what it meant to follow Christ in this way. No, it is not that I wasn’t committed. It was just that in my mind there was a certain predictability to it. Well, I was wrong.
This journey is a beautiful thing because I find that the more challenging it is, the sweeter the fellowship with the Lord is. I also find that the challenges I face in ministry are actually a privilege, not a curse. There is a certain sense that I have had for years now that God is preparing me for more than I could ever have asked or imagine. This is not a pride hing, it is God’s work. I simply want to be found faithful in the task at hand.
I took a trip to the mall the other day. While there I realized that I had not been to the actual mall in a long time. That didn’t bother me too much because as I walked down the long hallway from one end to the other, I was amazed at the amount of stuff there. Everywhere you look there are people buying a lot of stuff. I guess it just isn’t for me. My 3-year-old son even got to sample some sausage from a vendor. I should point out that I had much more time to look around because my son was walking at an incredibly slow pace. The irony is that in the house we can’t get him to stop running, but take him to the mall and he walks slower than anyone I have ever walked with. The interesting thing is that it made me slow down and look around. It made me stop to talk with a few people who were commenting on his shopping ‘ability’. How does someone be faithful in that moment? Being faithful was being present where I was placed. It meant noticing the smell that was blowing violently out of Abercrombie and Fitch. (I am convinced they spray cologne out of their vents.) It meant stopping to talk with a couple of vendors. Basically, it meant that my agenda was significantly changed because I was forced to slow down.
Currently in my youth ministry I am trying to figure out some important details. It has become painfully obvious that I took our meeting location for granted all these years. Now that we have no church building, it involves being a little more creative about how we do these discipling ministries. What do we do? When do we do it? Where do we do it? How do we effectively reach people with the Gospel? Jesus still calls us to do them faithfully. He still promises to be with us as we go. We just need to trust Him and faithfully be where He wants. I guess it means thinking outside of the box a bit.
I know that my situation is unique in specifics, but not unique in substance. All of us on mission with Christ have a specific task at hand. For some it might be taking care of someone who is ill. Other people might find themselves leaving a career to stay at home with children. I know that my plans never involved moving to Cape Cod and ministering in a church family where the building was destroyed by an arsonist. God had a different journey for me, and I believe His plans are far greater.
So we learn to “be where we are placed.” I look forward to where God leads me in the future. I have learned that it doesn’t do me any good to have a bunch of firm plans because God has called me to a journey that is far greater than my plans. I believe that is a lesson we can all learn, especially at Christmas time when God changed our journey by providing a Savior. As we all walk on the journey He has us, may we truly know the power of the Savior we celebrate at Christmas.
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” – Philippians 3:10-11