Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ministry at the Expense of Ministering

This morning God reiterated to me how important it is to never become so "ministry-minded" that I'm no good for truly ministering. As I made the long trek down to Wendover Road, I felt very unprepared. I normally like to spend a good portion of the evening the night before in prayer and Bible study, but I had been trying to refocus priorities yesterday. I had spent the day listening to praise and worship music while accomplishing many household things I knew would bless my husband and family. The list of tasks demanded my attention on into the evening, completely bullying out any extra time to spend with Jesus.

As I talked to the Lord on the way to ministry this morning, He gently encouraged me that I was doing my best. My family and husband need me and it is difficult to learn to balance all of life's demands, especially when dealing with the additional demands my husband's chronic illness puts on me. And I had felt pretty accomplished yesterday finishing with so many check-marks on my mental list! I had not lived the day perfectly, but I had lived it well and to the best of my ability.

And so I prayed for the Holy Spirit to empty me of myself and fill me with Himself. I prayed for protection and wisdom. I prayed, as always, for the mothers, some deceived and some simply full of hate, and for the tiny little ones who would feel every agonizing cut, pull, or burn as their final moments were stolen away. (Oh, Lord, let me never forget what abortion truly is!) And I marched into the battle, believing that it is better to march forward somewhat unprepared than to retreat altogether from the battle. David himself went to battle on a "whim" with no armor or sword, but only the strength of God behind a slingshot (1 Samuel 17).

"And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hands" (1 Samuel 17:47).

As we stood there, holding the sign of precious baby Malachi, murdered at 21 weeks gestation, my co-laborer and I began to talk. Normally I stand next to the driveway entrance and stop cars coming into the parking lot to ask them if they realize that abortions are taking place just steps away. But today I felt the Holy Spirit tell me to stay put. She began asking me how I was doing, how Jon was feeling. And this led to a long conversation about some personal difficulties she and her husband are having, including unemployment and, basically, broken dreams. I listened, sensing that I was simply there to be "an ear" for her. It was an encouragement to both of us to just listen and share and contemplate why God allows these trials in our lives.

By the end of the time, I realized that my mission this morning was more than shining a light on abortion in our city or even saving babies. Ministry for me this morning was being flexible enough to listen and obey when God directed me against my routine. Did we still follow God and minister? Yes, absolutely. Just not in the way we normally would have. In fact, at the end of the morning, God sent one of his servants as a wonderful reassurance to us. Up walked a lady who introduced herself as "Phyllis." She is a Southern Baptist missionary who just wanted to come over to thank us. "I know you probably have many people honking and cursing you. But you may never know all the babies you have saved by holding that sign until you get to heaven and meet them!" She then told us of her own granddaughter who, after seeing a graphic sign like ours, fled an abortion mill and saved the life of her now four-year-old daughter, Phyllis' great-granddaughter! Before she walked off, she took a moment to put her arms around us and pray over us.

Isn't God good? What a tender and gentle shepherd, who knows we are just dust and uses each of us just where we are. Trust Him and listen in the quietness of your heart. Ministry should never take place at the expense of ministering. Regular ministry should never become routine ministry...something that requires us to follow a rigid method...or we may miss opportunities to truly minister to those God brings into our paths right now.

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