By Renee D.
40 years of ministry and it doesn’t get any easier. You, your husband, and your family will pour your heart and soul into someone, and then you have to witness their choices, and those choices always bring about consequences. Somehow they “feel” – key word “feel” – they know their circumstances are different than all the other examples around us and all the examples in the Bible. It makes us tired. It makes us weary.
Very often, serving in the ministry, we witness someone sitting on the fence…one foot in the broad way and one foot in the narrow way. We cry from the narrow way, and the devil cries from the broad way—which way they jump is up to them. I have tried to drag people over to the right side of the fence, but unless something genuine has happened in a heart, nothing genuine will remain.
Part of the problem is that some people pick and choose what parts of scripture they believe and therefore obey, when with God it really is a giving over of every part of your life to Him in every small and large way, or He is not Lord. If you don’t submit in one area to God, you will find yourself not submitting in other areas, and it won’t be long before you walk away—if not physically, you will internally.
Much of “how much” of a person is given over to Christ can be explained by examining the old sins of Adam and Eve. We think we should be our own boss and make our own decisions. Eve listened to Satan tell her that God was withholding something from her and that she could be a god and be equal with God. God was just holding out on her. Well, we know that’s not true because we all know the outcome of her choices—the whole human race was plunged into sin. Her choices also affected her family. Cain believed his offering to God was good, and he was angry when God said, I do not accept the work of your hands. So, Eve’s son murdered his brother. Eve had to live with that and mourn her boys—both of them—for a lifetime. Still, people want to be their own boss.
So, we know all of this, and we are weary. Yes, I know, and our Father knows. It also grieves Him to watch as people choose their own path over the path of righteousness. At one point in history, it grieved him so deeply, he sent a massive flood that wiped out the population of the earth, leaving one righteous man and his family. Wow, does this sound familiar? Just a few righteous people left, who are wanting to walk in the ways of God. Noah preached for 120 years without a single convert. Most likely he was ridiculed, slandered, and left lonely for his stand. Sound familiar?
At another point in history, we can see the prophet, Jonah. He was so angry with the people of Nineveh that he didn’t want to warn them of the coming judgment of God because he knew it would give them an opportunity to repent. The Assyrians were very, very wicked people. And yet, in all their wickedness, God did not side with Jonah. He offered that one last chance to those wicked people. He literally forced Jonah to go and warn them. They did repent, and Jonah sat around feeling sorry for himself.
Now, here’s the twist. Can we relate to any of these servants? I believe we have all had moments that are just like the examples in scripture. Why you might say? Because everything written in the word of God is for us, written as examples. REAL SERVANT EXAMPLES ARE FOR US! We need to examine them. It’s really hard to serve God with expectations that come from a book, another church, denomination leadership, or are self-imposed. Why do we have the ideas we have about serving God? Where did those come from? Are we behaving just like the people we minister to, one foot in and one foot out of ministry? Is God standing by watching, calling us to carry on?
Look at the Word. Do a study of the servants of God throughout the Bible and you will find hardship, sorrow, and suffering. You will find they mourned, prayed, and cried as they watched God’s people choose the wrong path. You will find they found their joy in the Father. They looked for the blessed hope above all else. You will see they all suffered. We keep telling our congregation, “Look at the Bible, look at the Bible!” But I kindly ask, are we looking at the Bible?
Time and time again, men and women of God have been called to speak Truth into the lives of those around them, and time and time again, we have had to watch with stressful, painful emotions swirling around in our heads, as they make choices. The examples of servants in the Bible faced the same emotions! Why do we think that somehow our ministry should be different? We have the entire Bible of examples to observe, relate to, and comfort us.
I guess what I want to stress is, ministry is difficult. It doesn’t get any easier. Ministry has far more disappointments than you ever expect going into it. So, what is our joy? Our joy is the same as God’s joy—bringing someone to Christ, helping them grow, watching them serve, and in turn, one day, we will hear: “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” One day in the presence of the precious Lamb of God, we will have our rewards, our treasures we have laid up, and sit and bask in His glory. It might not seem like it now, but it will be worth it all.