I had a plan.
A good plan. A GLORIOUS plan. It was all for Jesus, of course.
I think it may have had a few holes in it.
” ‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the LORD.
‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.’ ” –Isaiah 55:8-9
I can just hear Jesus in his ‘I-love-you-child-but-oh-honey-you-are-way-out-of-your-league-here-sweetheart. Please would you just leave the heavy lifting to me?’
You know, believe it or not, this little Mennonite girl (if you don’t know what that is…it’s my ‘tribe’:)) from Manitoba had some pretty big dreams for how to serve Jesus.
“Here I am LORD, send me!” -Isaiah 6:8
This resonated in my heart and spirit from a young age, like a little kid in Kindergarten class, just eager to be chosen for the task,
‘Ooooooo!! OOOooohhh!! Pick me, Jesus! Pick me!’
All too often though much of it contained by a self conscious, insecure exterior, with anxious smiles thrown on top for good measure.
Unfortunately, still my natural default when I don’t trust.
“Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” -Mark 16:15
‘Yeah, sign me up…let’s do it! World evangelism!!! Preaching, teaching, caring for the poorest of the poor, breaking the chains of oppression! I’m in.’
If I’m being totally honest though…too often I’ve been tempted to disappointment in my part in His Great Story. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m here and I’m grateful. God has been faithful and done some amazing things. I think the problem was I had my own lofty ideas of how it was all gonna pan out. That I would finally find my ‘sweet spot’ in ministry. That their would be very clear measurable evidence of it all (I believe the Bible calls that ‘fruit’). More simply put, I thought God would use ME, the average gal, to do something amazing!
The reality is that Tanzania kinda kicked my immature Mzungu(white person)butt! Truly serving Jesus, building His Kingdom in whatever capacity, giving yourself to it genuinely, wholeheartedly and faithfully over and over again is not always a tidy road of great success. Just take a look at any of the disciples who followed Jesus. It didn’t really end well for them, at least not from an earthly perspective. I came to a similar conclusion while I was reading about the founder of our mission organization, Peter Cameron Scott. He had the vision of reaching East Africa with the Gospel and moving inland across the continent but he had to overcome great opposition and he died 6 years into his mission in East Africa. He didn’t get to see with his own eyes all he had hoped to accomplish for the Kingdom of God, or that AIM became an active mission organization that is still serving here 120 years later. You can read more about this story here: http://www.aimint.org/eu/about/69-aims-history
All that to say that to REALLY be someone of greatness in His World…
is DEATH. Death in some form or another.
Death to all your self-centered, self-conscious, self-esteem, self-help, self-glorification, self-promotion etc. (you get my point)
Death even to my idea of the ultimate ministry.
Okay. I think its time. Time for me to make my confession. Here goes.
I confess…I kinda wanted to be one of those people of great influence in the Christian world! Yup…yup, its true. Ok…perhaps a slight exaggeration…not the world, but like a continent would be fine too(still kidding). You know, like preaching freedom to the oppressed masses, multitudes are baptized in the Indian Ocean, everyone I disciple would have an enthusiastic vibrant walk with Jesus!
Now you know just how silly I really am! ‘Awwwee isn’t she so sweet…delusional…but sweet.’
So you can see when you start with plans of multitudes….and you are struggling to be a ‘world changer’ through just a handful…well, yeah it can leave you questioning, ‘where did I go wrong’. You may even go into the pity party where you cry saying, ‘But what about me God?‘. Hy pathetically speaking, of course! So what happens?
Well. you either stay a childish, self absorbed Christian, and we all know how attractive they are, or…..
I’ve been through a recent season of that out here, in this HOT, scorching city of Dar es Salaam. That dying stuff. Tanzania has been part of my refining process in Jesus. There have been some tough battles waged….mostly behind closed doors…. and some not so much. I thought I knew what I was here to do. Then Jesus came and turned it all upside down.
The CRUSHING is intense.
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives.” -John 12:24
There’s just no way around it.
My plan was too narrow, too small, and far to much about me. And it is so not about me.
One day as I was praying, again, about wanting to do my ‘dream ministry’ and the Holy Spirit in His still small voice way just impressed on my heart the following;
‘Angie, your idea or dream of the ultimate ministry, which really is your idea of the ultimate way of serving Me is so small. Do you know WHO I AM? I AM He who can ‘do immeasurably more than YOU could EVER ask or imagine’ (Eph. 3:20). You are barely scratching the surface at the vastness of my power, love, grace and sovereignty, and the thoughts I have towards you (Ps.139:17) cannot compare with your loftiest thoughts, dreams and ideas. Come to Me. Choose Me again. Its all about Me and my Kingdom and my glory so let Me lead you.
When you die to yourself, but in this dying you keep turning to the Cross, to The One who hung on that cross, and you lay it all bare there, in the ugly mess of it all….eventually you WILL find your way to the resurrection. That’s a guarantee that we have in Christ.
Everything will look a little different in the Light of the ‘life after death’. It will take on a new form. Perhaps, something you never expected.
But the JOY. Oh, the Joy of knowing Him through it all. That alone will be more than enough that no task will seem too small. And no death too great.
Anything ‘dying’ in your life season? Do you see the ‘resurrection’ coming?