Tuesday

Bluejays and Swimming Holes

During a time of prayer the other day, I saw a stellars jay picking maple seeds out of the gutters at the edge of the house I was staying at. I love jays, their bright blue boldness and perky confidence.

I had just asked God to speak to me this morning, and immediately the jay caught my attention; so I stopped what I was doing and appreciated his beauty. “Thanks Father, for such a beautiful creation.”

I felt the Lord whisper to me, “This bird was created for this purpose, to give you beauty to enjoy this morning, to draw your attention to Me.” Just by being who he was, he was fulfilling God’s purpose for him.

When I was nine or ten years old, my family went camping across western Canada; it was a hot summer, and we stopped and went swimming every chance we got, and always camped at a river or lake. One day, we found this really great camping place, and we swam and played and laughed until we were worn out, and then we ate smores until we were really full and went to bed.

The next morning, I had a difficult time waking up. After four or five attempts to rouse, my father threatened me: “If you don’t get up, I’m going to throw you in the lake.” Of course I didn’t believe him; he was my dad. He wouldn’t do that. So I didn’t take it seriously.

A few minutes later, I was still in bed, and my dad grabbed my sleeping bag, drug it down to the side of the swimming area, and unceremoniously dumped me out on the dock. “OK OK! I’m up. I’m ten years old, standing there in the cool morning air in my big flannel pajamas; I wanted to go back to camp.

But no! He pushed once, and I made a huge splash. Totally soaked, I climbed back up on the dock, but by that time, he was halfway back to camp, so I took off after him, splashing water everywhere! Eventually, I caught him and gave him a hug, as well as splashed my brother pretty well.

We're going to talk about two truths today, two truths that contradict each other, and yet each is true.

The first truth is this: just by being yourself, you accomplish much in the purposes that God has for you.

For example, Jesus said, in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

OK. What do you need to do to accomplish the task of being a light? Nothing!

In the middle of the night, even a little town like Tenino is full of lights. You can't hide something like that. You can't hide the light that shines out of you, particularly when you're walking among people in darkness.

Jesus says you’re like that; like a city set up on a hill that everyone can see in the darkness. It takes more work to stop being who you are than to continue.

Sometimes, Jesus ministered like this. Remember in Matthew 9, the woman that came up and touched the hem of His garment? She was healed from a twelve-year-long problem.

That happened regularly with Jesus.

Mark 6:56 Wherever He entered into villages, cities, or in the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well.

All He did sometimes was just walk by, being Himself.

And if you’re walking with Jesus, then who you are is a powerful ministry. There's no sweat, no fuss, no panic, nothing you can do.

People see you. They recognize that there's something about you that is more than what’s visible.

I sell technical electronic stuff where I work, and one of my customers is Fort Lewis. I was working with one specialist in the Army's Special Forces Group on a couple of complex projects a year or two ago. He'd come into my office a couple of times a week and we'd have a grand time designing these complex technical systems that the federal government was going to pay for.

One Friday morning, he showed up as I expected, but he came into my office kind of quiet, and he closed the door behind him, which he never does, and sat down in the chair. “David, there’s something different about you,” he said. “There’s a peace about you and I need peace. What is it?”

Whoa.

Twenty minutes later, we were praying together, and this Special Forces soldier had his hat in his hand, and was asking the King of Kings to be His Captain and Savior.

That man came to Christ because he came in contact with an ambassador of the Kingdom of God. I accomplished my work in that situation just by being who God has made me to be.

You have stories like that, lots of them. I don’t know your stories. I only tell mine because I was there.

I told you that we were going to talk about two contradictory truths: both were true, and yet they're the opposite of each other.

This is the first truth: Who you are is ministry. Who you are is effective at accomplishing God's purposes on this earth (that's all ministry is). It’s easy. You’re just you, and that’s a reflection of Jesus. Remember: You’re made in His image.

Maybe you cause someone to ask questions about Jesus. That’s ministry!

Maybe you lift a weight off of someone who’s burdened. That’s ministry!

Maybe you encourage someone that they really can succeed. That’s ministry.

Maybe you help someone find an answer to a problem that you had no idea that they had. That’s ministry.

When you walk with Jesus, it’s like someone who fell into the swimming pool fully dressed. When they climb out, you can tell exactly where they’ve been because they splash water every time they take a step.

You're like that: you fall in the pool with Jesus, and when you get out, you splash Jesus all over with every step you take. If it's been a long time since you’ve been in the pool, then maybe you don’t splash as much, but you splash ministry wherever you go. You splash God's purposes wherever you go.

So what do you do with this?

Nothing, really. Just hang out with Jesus, and be who you are.

Well, actually, that’s something we can do, isn’t it? Hang out with Jesus. But that’s something we already do. Get in the pool w/ Jesus. Get in the Word. Talk. Listen. Obey. That kind of stuff. The regular stuff of a believer’s life.

This makes us splash better.

The blue jay wasn't trying to accomplish anything; it was just being blue. You just be you, and be at peace with that. Relax. Rest.

By the way, when you're riding a bicycle, which pedal do you push? They're opposite of each other, you know. Which do you push on?

Whichever one is needing to be pushed.

We've pushed one pedal: who you are is ministry. There's no sweat, no fuss, no panic, nothing you can do. You just are ministry when you walk with Jesus.

Are you ready to push the other pedal now? I'm not going to blow your circuits, am I?

Ministry takes hard work.

Have you noticed that sometimes, ministry is work? If you’re going to be effective in the long run, you’re going to run into seasons when keeping going is a real pain in the Yakt├╝sk!

In my work of selling technical stuff, most of my customers are churches, and I consider my work to be ministry. I serve churches. They have a need with their sound system, for example, and they call me, and I help them meet their need.

But sometimes, I have to explain technical things to someone who isn't technical, and it tries my patience. Or sometimes, something's gone wrong, and they're angry or confused or offended, and it's hard making any sense with them. Or sometimes, it seems like a thousand little details go wrong with one project.

You've had that happen. You try to help someone, and they take advantage of you. Or you patiently speak truth into their life, and they don't hear. Or worse yet, they do the exact opposite of what you just taught them. Or you have to help them do the same thing over and over and over again.

I had a friend who only called me when he was in trouble. When he called, I wanted to answer the phone with, “Hi Bob. What's wrong now?” He never called unless he was in a panic, and he never applied the scriptural truth I gave him so he was often in a panic, always at the end of his rope, and always expecting me to bail him out. After a few years of it, I got real tired of it!

The thing that drew my attention to this idea so thoroughly was a story in Acts that I was studying when I saw the bluejay that God used as an example for me. I was meditating my way through Acts, and I'd come to Acts 16 and the story of the slave girl with the spirit of divination.

16 Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” 18 And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.

Now that's ministry!

While I was meditating on this, the Lord drew my attention to Paul's motivation here: he was greatly annoyed. Other translations say he was "wearied out" or "sore troubled" or "grieved" or "vexed." I looked the word up in my Strong's concordance (we have one on the bookshelf for anyone to use who wants).

Here's what it said:

The Greek is 1278 diaponeo {dee-ap-on-eh'-o: }from 1223 and a derivative of 4192, which ends up literally: "through pain" or "by way of great trouble or passionate desire."

Paul was ministering through his pain. There are some times when great ministry only comes through great pain, great trouble or great passion.

By the way, this is normal!

In 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul talks about his ministry among the people there:

8 So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. 9 For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.

Paul says similar things in Colossians 1:28:

28 Him [Jesus] we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

The word “Labor” here is kopiao: “to grow weary, tired, exhausted with toil or burdens or grief”

So I was sitting with the Lord, reflecting on this: “Lord, if I sometimes get tired in ministry, that doesn't really mean I'm unspiritual or weak, does it?”

He answered, “If my Son Jesus got tired in his ministry and had to get alone with me to restore his soul, what makes you think you won't also get tired?”

So what do we do with this pedal? How do we respond in the times when ministry is hard work and we get discouraged, or frustrated, or weary?

The same way: Get in the pool and rest in Jesus. Get in the Word. Talk to Him. Listen. Obey. That kind of stuff. The regular stuff of a believer’s life.

Even Jesus had to get alone with God to restore His soul. What makes you think you don’t need what Jesus needed?

I believe that many of us are spending too much time sweating FOR God and too little time resting IN Him. And as a result, we’re getting Tired. Weary. Worn out.

I believe some of us are too afraid of getting tired and weary that we won’t get out of the pool and get in among the people.

Both of us have to repent. We need to get in the pool. And we need to get out of the pool and go back to camp.

OK. We’ve pushed on both pedals. Now our bicycle is getting somewhere!

The first pedal: Who you are is ministry! We’re like the blue jays.

To be more effective, get in the pool with Jesus.

The second pedal: Ministry takes hard work! We’re called co-laborers with Christ.

To be more effective, get in the pool with Jesus.

Either way: get in the pool with Jesus.

1 comment:

Kathie Junker said...

Thank you! Revelation Confirmation Encouragement .... Just being me has been of late discouraging and discontent....tearing down what God has made not knowing what His perfection was to look like. Even in our weakness He is made strong. I will not let my discontent tarnish His perfection in me!

Beautiful butterflies
Colors so stunning and brilliant
Flitting quickly and tirelessly

Who are you
Small world white butterfly?
A transparent reflection
Of nothingness?

Oh but only you can reflect
The Fathers love
So deep So wide
Multifaceted jewel

Clearly transparent yet
Shining through darkness
Bright as white lightening
Lighting up the world
Through the darkness