(Book begins with the Preface in the January 31 post.)
5. Do something. On the other side, we must do something. God has a mission for each of us. We work with him to determine what it is.
I couldn’t just stay cozy in my little suburban nest and ignore the rest of the world. Jesus sent his disciples into all the world to carry the gospel message “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). And he told the story of the Good Samaritan recorded in Luke 10 solely to answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?” The short answer: Anyone with a need that I am equipped to meet, even people very different from me.
God has not called me to physically go to the ends of the earth at this time. Yet as part of the body, I am to support those who do go. And that support includes caring for needs that I become aware of and am equipped to meet. It doesn’t matter whose need it is, believer or unbeliever, I am to be a neighbor. There’s no record of the Good Samaritan making the wounded man pass a theological qualifying exam before he received help. I can’t do that either.
So with a commitment to be a world Christian, believing we need to be concerned with people’s spiritual and material needs, I began to look for my place. I already knew I couldn’t give to everything or even pray for every ministry. Believe me, I’ve tried. It’s not possible unless you are one of the few called to a life of total prayer. And even then I’m not sure you could pray for every need.
It can sound awfully unspiritual to decide some good ministry is not going to receive my ongoing prayer. But it’s freeing. Now when presented with a prayer need for a ministry, I can quickly pray and let it go, trusting God to bring it to my mind if he wishes me to keep upholding it in prayer. Even in prayer one can’t do it all. Again, that’s why we’re part of a body. Each member does a part.
6. Determine our style, our steps. God equips each of us with unique gifts and compelling interests to complete our selected mission. Now is the time to pray, examine our own interests, know our abilities, and understand our time and financial limitations.
To complete God’s mission for me, I need to know what it is. But I wasn’t really sure how to go about finding it. Unlike Peter, Jesus did not invite me for a chat at the lake. But he did leave me with the promise of James 1:5: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” So I asked. And I keep asking.
As I prayed, I realized that if God has a task for me, then he has designed me to do it in his power. It would be foolish—cruel and contrary to his nature, actually—for him to give me a mission I was incapable of completing. Ephesians 2:10 tells us: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God made me, crafted me. He made me to do good works, my mission. And those good works were prepared in advance for me to do. Other people may have good works they want me to do, bless their hearts, but I am required only to find the ones God prepared for me, the ones he uniquely created me to do.
And so how was I uniquely created? Knowing myself might give me a clue to my mission. I began to investigate my passions and my gifts and abilities. I’m enthusiastic, an organizer, and able to teach and write. I always root for the underdog, even switching sides during a football game if the underdog becomes the top dog and gets too cocky. I love to read, love geography, love seeing someone succeed against the odds. I love to be silly and laugh; I love children; I love to be silly and laugh with children. I love to make people feel valued, special, to help them discover their own possibilities.
Knowing how God has designed me, the loves and interests and abilities he’s given me, has allowed me to begin to determine how he wants me to impact my world for him. In the next chapter, I will show you how that is playing out in my life. Hopefully, the illustration will give you encouragement for seeking your own unique fit in God’s kingdom work.