While on our mini-furlough this summer we are weekly, if not daily, in and out of various engaging conversations and speaking opportunities. I’ve found that furloughs are not only good for catching up with lots of people, but they also provide a wonderful time for Nancy and I to pull back and reflect on what God is and has been doing. Condensing years of ministry experiences into 15-minute presentations will do that for you!
This furlough the Lord has struck me with a fresh reminder of what He has called us to… making disciples, baptizing, teaching and bringing people together as a church family. (Matthew 28:19-20) But He has also been pressing on my heart lately these questions. Where is the urgency in what Jesus has called us to? Have I lost my intensity and passion for lost people and the Great Commission amidst all the busyness? Am I growing weary… too many meetings and phone calls, multiple recruiting efforts, feeling the ongoing tension of mobilizing people who are considering world missions and serving those that are already on the mission field?
During my morning quiet time recently, I read this piercing quote from William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army.
“Not called,” did you say? “Not heard the call,” I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burden, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters and servants and masters not to come there. Then look Christ in the face — whose mercy you have professed to obey — and tell him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish his mercy to the world.”
We may not agree with all of Booth’s implied theology here, but what he has done is strike a match of urgency to what God has called us to. I was practically in tears when I finished that paragraph and had to ask God to help me not to grow weary or lose my passion and urgency for sharing the gospel and continue our efforts in church planting.
I don’t think Jesus could have been any more clear is His call of Nancy and I, using these words, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matt.16:24: Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23; 14:27)
In some minor areas of my life there is perceived urgency (like getting this blog article written – the month is ending soon!). But I am now praying more ferevently for a fresh and greater urgency, a renewed passion, if you will, for reaching lost people, recruiting more workers and seeing more churches planted.
In many of the conversations we’ve had since returning to America, people are emphatically talking about how our world appears to be totally out of control. They express thoughts about the current economic conditions, Israel, the Ebola outbreak, etc., and yet we remember that God is still on His throne. Actually, the events of the world are all lining up perfectly, by His design… all is right on schedule, prophecy is being fulfilled.
In the meantime, and until Jesus comes for us, may we all be urgently completing the tasks He has given us. May we hold nothing back in our service and in the commitment of our resources. Feeling a bit complacent and lacadaisycal about the work of Christ? “Not called,” did you say? “Not heard the call,” We need to get going with what matters most. Now is the time – there is great urgency to what Christ has called us to.
We love being in partnership together with you as we labor in the harvest fields, both here in America and in South Africa. We’re on our furlough through mid-September and then back home in South Africa for the next leg of the journey. We’ve posted some new prayer requests – just click on the Prayer Tab on our website http://www.onerwe.com and thank you for praying, giving and serving, God is at work!
“for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13)