Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lost Causes

To be faithful is to have no timetable.

God’s call is God’s call and unless God says otherwise, God doesn’t set a timer once the call is made.

When I first began Anawim, I was called by God to quit my job and spend my time focusing on the spiritual needs of the homeless. The church I was with prayed with me and fully supported me in God’s call. At this point, my family spent a year homeless and struggling financially and with trying to do God’s will despite many opposing our obedience to God’s confirmed call.
The final test came when the church that originally confirmed God’s call to me finally withdrew their support. Some in the church were frustrated at the lack of progress over a year’s period of time. They wanted to see real changes among the people we were working with. They wanted me to “be responsible” and to work for my family and to stop working for those who don’t deserve it. They saw the ministry as being fruitless and the homeless community as being devoid of God.
They no longer allowed us to meet in their facility and told me that it was their view that I should stop reaching out to the homeless community and instead take care of my family.
I didn’t stop, not because I thought that the ministry was accomplishing more than they saw. I recognized that we had almost no one more interested in Jesus than we had to begin with.
Rather, I trusted that God’s calling is not fruitless, not did it have a limit. As human beings we want to see certain goals accomplished by a certain time or else we decide that God didn’t actually call us to the ministry.

But neither Ezekiel nor Jeremiah saw God’s call that way. In fact, God warned them from the get-go: “Look guys, no one will listen to you. You are going to spend all of your lives speaking my truth to people whose ears will be plugged by their fingers. But I want you to speak the message anyway. You may not understand now, but someone, someday will.”
And they stuck with God’s ministry through their entire lives. Even when God told them to do very difficult tasks. Even when people around them mocked them or arrested them. Even when they suffered greatly. Even when they were being forced to do what they did not want to do. They stayed on course, sticking with God’s call no matter what.
And not once in their lives did they see the face of someone who heard and obeyed the messages they faithfully presented. But that was the task God gave them.

In our ministries we should stop being so result-focused. When God gives us a call, He gives us a task. And that task requires sacrifice and it requires commitment. Sometimes the task seems pointless. But the effort is more than just results. Because the best results of any work we do for God is seen only by God.

Blessed are ministers of lost causes, for God will give them success. They sure as hell ain’t gunna get no success any other way.

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