Really God, You Want Me (or Us) to Do What?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
7 LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived. You are stronger than I am, and you have overpowered me. Everyone makes fun of me; they laugh at me all day long. 8 Whenever I speak, I have to cry out and shout, “Violence! Destruction!” LORD, I am ridiculed and scorned all the time because I proclaim your message. 9 But when I say, “I will forget the LORD and no longer speak in his name,” then your message is like a fire burning deep within me. I try my best to hold it in, but can no longer keep it back. Jeremiah 20:7-9 (TEV)
FOR AN INITIAL MEDITATION, I propose that you consider the ministerial mission you will receive. Having been formally commissioned, you will be confronted yet again with this reality: you are created and saved by the same Jesus who now calls you to serve as ministers, and you will therefore need to exercise the discerning generosity required for greater service in this specific mission.
MUCH TO OUR CONSOLATION, scripture has preserved for us the special relation that was established between the Lord and those he sent on mission: Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Joseph, and so many others. All of them felt deeply their own inadequacy in the face of the Lord’s request: “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Exod 3: 11); “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips” (Isa 6: 5); “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak for I am only a youth” (Jer 1: 6); “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (Matt 3: 14); even Joseph, who made plans “to dismiss Mary quietly” (Matt 1: 19). There is the initial resistance, the inability to comprehend the magnitude of the call, the fear of the mission. This sign is from the good spirit, especially if it does not stop there but allows the Lord’s strength to express itself through human weakness and to infuse that weakness with consistency and solidity. “I will be with you, and this shall be the sign that I have sent you: when you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God upon this mountain” (Exod 3: 12); “He touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven’” (Isa 6: 7); “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you ” (Jer 1: 7-8); “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3: 15); “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matt 1: 20). (1)
I’ve tried to write this blog a number of times. It is…difficult at best, because most people don’t see ministry as something that should be challenging, that can break a person who is serving others, who is loving them as Christ commanded, as Christ demonstrated throughout His life and on the cross.
We forget that Jesus even, as He was preparing to die, showed how the pressure could break someone.
It does matter whether you are a parent, ministering to your children (or as common these days, to your parents) It could also be a teacher ministering to her students, or a youth ministry person, trying to help a family work through adolescent traumas. It could be the musicians and singers who facilitate worship, trying to lift spirits of the congregation while they themselves are grieving. It could be the pastor who struggles with needing to repeat the same lessons over and over.
Ministering, serving to others, is rough. You have to go to where the people live, into the lives of pain, or doubt. We end up immersing ourselves, even to the point where we often find ourselves over our head.
We have to face facts. As much as we want to be capable, as much as we want to be successful, on our own – we cannot.
We can’t do this ministry. It is beyond us, just as it was beyond Moses, Joshua, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Peter, John and Paul.
We can’t handle it on our own, but only by remaining focused.
Not on the ministry, not on the problems, but focused on Christ. As we know His mercy, His compassion, His love and His faithfulness…… for that is what sees us through.
Cry out Lord, have mercy! Trust in Him, even while you have to pray that He strengthens that trust.
(1) Pope Francis; Jorge M Bergoglio (2013-11-18). Open Mind, Faithful Heart (pp. 35-36). The Crossroad Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.