Redefining Ministry

Life is not always what I dreamed it would be.  It’s full of surprises and often those are pleasant surprises.  They tend to be more pleasant if I don’t get uptight, and just realize that I am not the one running my life.  For most of my adult life I’ve wanted to be in ministry, but that’s such a vague goal.  I loved the idea of sharing my love for Christ and Scripture with others and I absolutely love seeing people grow.  Although these desires have not lessened (if anything they have gotten more intense) my idea of what ministry is has changed drastically.

My days in ministry are not glamorous.  I live with five ladies who are 18-21 years old.  My main responsibility is to mentor them (yet again, another somewhat vague term).  I typically get to the end of a day exhausted.  I lay awake waiting for the last girl to arrive home even though I wanted to be asleep hours before.  There are days that start off with someone bursting into my room with a personal crisis right after I get out of the shower and I’m less than fully clothed.  It seems as though the deep, life changing conversations only come after 11pm.  I play hours of Uno and SkipBo, not for the love of the game, but because those moments become beautiful and precious.  All of these moments that are not prestigious or earth-shattering are some of the most cherished moments to me.  These are the times when God chooses to teach me some of the most heart wrenching lessons.

  • I get tired, but God teaches me how to receive strength and provision from Him.
  • I lack wisdom and insight to share in those late night conversations, yet, God gives me love and speaks truth through me.
  • I get embarrassed or annoyed at those intrusive moments, and God give me joy, the ability to laugh and see the humor in daily life.
  • I feel inadequate for the responsibilities before me, but God covers me in His love and it overflows from me into the lives around me.
  • I sometimes don’t know what I need at the moment, God sends someone to meet needs I didn’t even know I had and teach me to receive.
  • The sleepless nights are worth it, because God reminds me that it’s an opportunity to pray and He deepens my love for others.
  • I want to be selfish and do something for myself, and God teaches me that sacrifice is easy when you love people.
  • When I am struggling with negative thoughts and emotions, God reminds me that I am in a spiritual battle and Jesus is the victor already.
  • When I am frustrated with immaturity and one of the girls comes to me asking for forgiveness or comfort, and God grants me love, mercy and grace beyond what I thought possible.
  • When that annoying song is playing on repeat for the 23 time that day and it makes me want to pull my hair out, and I realize that God is answering my prayer for patience. (just not how I wanted it)
  • When I decide to play that game or watch that movie (even though I don’t want to) because I was asked, and God shows me that real love is selfless – I receive joy.
  • When I realize at 4pm that I haven’t even had a chance to eat that day because I have been taking care of everyone else, the Lord sustains me and meets my needs.
  • When the truth seems blurred by the lies running through my mind, God sends me people to pour Truth into my life.
  • When I am empty and feel like I can’t give anymore, God gives me rest and refreshment.
  • I feel alone, and I am reminded that people pray for me everyday and that God never leaves my side.
  • When my heart feels broken because of the choices people I love are making, God comforts me and shows me His heart hurts for them too.  But His love remains.

In the moments that I don’t understand what I did to deserve this life I dive deeper into understanding God’s grace.  I did nothing to have the privilege of living with these girls.  I don’t deserve to be called their mentor, but it is a gift from the Lord, just as each one of them is.  I surely didn’t know it was possible to love them this much and it is an honor to get to know them.  At times it’s terrifying when they entrust wounds from their fragile hearts to me.  In those moments God gives me more love, more grace, more compassion than I knew was humanly possible.  I wouldn’t change my life with them for anything.  I love them deeply and I get to see them mature, grow, and learn.  They are becoming more like Christ and it’s incredible!  God used them to teach me and each day I see what kind of love parents have and why mothers go to such (seemingly) insane lengths for their children.  Honestly, they have become a part of my heart and my life forever.

I am not a special person who is naturally inclined to do any of these aforementioned things.  I realize, my parents probably aren’t either.  The people who pour into my life and give so much for me probably aren’t.  But the character and ministry that is displayed to me doesn’t reflect on them.  It is a reflection of our Savior Jesus Christ in their lives – in my life.  He’s taking people who naturally don’t have anything good in them and is allowing His Holy Spirit to work and move.  He’s allowing the world to see Him through His people.

I have been so tremendously fortunate to have a long list of people who have spoken the Truth of Scripture into my life through their words and actions.  I have people who mentor me and show me what it means to serve and love others.  I see Christ reflected and I can imitate them as they imitate Christ.  I am also blessed to have people who view me this same way (even though at times I don’t have a clue why).

My prayer for the ladies that I live with is that they will see Christ for who He is and what He’s done for them.  In turn, that they will serve Him, not to gain His love, but because they love Him with the love He has lavished on them.  I want them to know that nothing they do will qualify or disqualify them for the grace they receive.

God has loved me with an everlasting and it’s all-encompassing and insurmountable. What do I do with that love?  I choose to serve Him and give people a glimpse of that love.  It may be a dim reflection of His glory, but it’s all I have.  God has allowed me to be this reflection and because of that I am enough.

Lessons from Numbers 21

“We have here the removes of the children of Israel, till they came to the plains of Moab, from whence they passed over Jordan into Canaan. The end of their pilgrimage was near. “They set forward.” It were well if we did thus; and the nearer we come to heaven, were so much the more active and abundant in the work of the Lord. The wonderful success God granted to his people, is here spoken of, and, among the rest, their actions on the river Arnon, at Vaheb in Suphah, and other places on that river. In every stage of our lives, nay, in every step, we should notice what God has wrought for us; what he did at such a time, and what in such a place, ought to be distinctly remembered. God blessed his people with a supply of water. When we come to heaven, we shall remove to the well of life, the fountain of living waters. They received it with joy and thankfulness, which made the mercy doubly sweet. With joy must we draw water out of the wells of salvation, Isaiah 12:3. As the brazen serpent was a figure of Christ, who is lifted up for our cure, so is this well a figure of the Spirit, who is poured forth for our comfort, and from whom flow to us rivers of living waters, John 7:38,39. Does this well spring up in our souls? If so, we should take the comfort to ourselves, and give the glory to God. God promised to give water, but they must open the ground. God’s favours must be expected in the use of such means as are within our power, but still the power is only of God.”

-From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Numbers 21:10-20