This morning as I was walking in the crisp morning air along a one-lane country road my mind was drifting here and there. To be quite honest, I was kind of feeling a little sorry for myself. I thought of all the people who contact me day by day for help with detoxing or other health and spiritual issues, and of how few express any real gratitude and how even fewer offer to support our labors financially. Like the nine lepers of Luke 17, maybe one in ten shows any real sign of thankfulness. I pondered the old phrase, “what’s the use?” for a few minutes. Then the gentle quietness of nature seemed to vie for my attention and finally I stopped and just listened for a bit–soaking up the peace. The birds, the crickets, the soft breeze in the walnut grove by the creek all captured my thoughts completely. And then I heard that still, small voice I’m sure we’ve all heard. You know what I heard? Many of you have heard it before, and it was a phrase coined by the late missionary, Jim Elliot.
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
“Wow, Lord!”, I thought, “You sure know how to turn my thoughts to what’s real.” Investment in heaven cannot rust or be stolen!! It will all be worth it–here and now as well as in eternity.
So often I become myopic in my daily life and in labors for others. I see what is only right before me–the physical evidence. But faith is not based on evidence. (Hebrews 11). God is enthroned above it all, and the wheel within the wheel is uncomplicated to Him. (Ezekiel 1:16). “Sow beside all waters”, we’re told. “Thank You, Lord”, I quietly breathed, as I headed out on my walk again.
Needless to say, the rest of my morning walk had a different focus. This time my thought went to the Bible story of David and Goliath. Sometimes it seems the needs and sheer amount of labor needed in “the cause of God” (which sometimes is my cause) looms before me like a mammoth Goliath. As I walked, my thoughts developed…and my heart began to bow.
“Lord”, I said, “I have been trying to fit into Saul’s armor, haven’t I?” Yes, and in many unintentional and undetected ways too! God help me. Consider this:
“Let me tell you that the Lord will work in this last work in a manner very much out of the common order of things, and in a way that will be contrary to any human planning. There will be those among us who will always want to control the work of God, to dictate even what movements shall be made when the work goes forward under the direction of the angel who joins the third angel in the message to be given to the world. God will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reins in His own hands. The workers will be surprised by the simple means that He will use to bring about and perfect His work of righteousness.”—Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 300
“Simple means…” Perhaps as simple as a sling and a smooth stone, whatever that may look like in my circumstances or yours. My heart is refreshed this morning. Energized by a renewed sense of my nothingness and the “everythingness” of God. My part is vital and can have a huge impact. But the work is the Lord’s.
“When churches are revived, it is because some individual seeks earnestly for the blessing of God. He hungers and thirsts after God, and asks in faith, and receives accordingly. He goes to work in earnest, feeling his great dependence upon the Lord, and souls are aroused to seek for a like blessing, and a season of refreshing falls on the hearts of men. The extensive work will not be neglected. The larger plans will be laid at the right time; but personal, individual effort and interest for your friends and neighbors, will accomplish much more than can be estimated. It is for the want of this kind of labor that souls for whom Christ died are perishing.” Christian Service, page 121
Friends, as you look around at the needs of the work, the issues in the church and the world, and your own needs, cast off Saul’s armor. Look around for your “sling and stone.” With self humbled, surrendered and listening for marching orders, God wants to do something amazing in our lives! You and I can be that one individual who earnestly seeks the blessing of God for effectiveness. “Goliath” needs to go, and I am only a vessel. The work is the Lord’s. It’s time to sharpen our aim–or better yet, let the Lord “smooth us out”, for when the Lord directs, the stone shall accomplish its task.