Any Given Moment
There is joy to be found in not doing what you want. I had opportunity to experience this once again recently, experiencing the joy of Christ as I missed being a part of several things I really wanted to be a part of to do the main thing God was calling me to do at any given moment. The truth is, to serve God's purposes we must be available at any given moment.
If I had my choice of tasks, I would always want to be preaching the Word of God. But there are many other things in life that need our attention. We need to attend to the many and varied things in life and ministry. God knows. I feel a bit like Paul, who said, “Woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16). As he said to the Thessalonians, “We were well-pleased to impart to you not only the Gospel of God but our very lives because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:7-8). I love the intersection of the Word of God and relationships and how God uses both to bring about His sovereign purposes. So if you give me my choice that’s what I’m going to choose every time.
And yet, sometimes other assignments come calling, they find you. You don’t always get to choose what you want. In fact, I think that sometimes God uses us and blesses us the most when we say yes to a good thing He wants us to do that isn’t our first preference or a part of our plan. God knows and orchestrates this as well. God wants me to rest in Him, deny myself, and bless others. And that means that sometimes I miss one thing or another that I really want to do in order to do the main thing that I'm called to do at any given moment in time.
This happened to me recently on the island of Cyprus, in the city of Paphos in early January 2018. Our sole purpose was to serve those who are always serving, minister to missionaries from Africa and Europe. They all converged on Paphos. That's the city Paul walked to and then embarked from on an ocean voyage on his way to Rome (Acts 13). He preached the Gospel to Sergius Paulus and others. God called those He chose before the foundation of the world to Himself. And that is how Christianity came to the island. The Gospel changed lives and rearranged priorities. This is what the Gospel has done in my heart. The Gospel calls me out of myself and into the glorious joy of the children of God in Christ.
So there I was, driving a group of kids and leaders to the zoo in Paphos. It was a 30 minute or so drive. Then I was shuttling someone back to the conference. Then I was driving back to the zoo to pick up the group. What I wanted was to be involved with the communion service that was going on at the conference. I deeply missed that. But remember, life is not about us and what we want. My calling in that given moment to best honor God was to go pick kids and leaders up at the zoo. And so I offered the drive and the time up to the Lord. And He gave me tears of joy. Serving Him is the best thing on earth. And it foreshadows our service to Him, our worship of Him forever in eternity in heaven, in His presence. All because of His glory. All to bring honor to Him.
I'll call it a "Surprise Assignment", a spur of the moment reallocation of resources. An opportunity to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs (Titus 3:14). We learn this in painful, beneficial self denial. It doesn't feel good but it is good.
Surprise Assignment Part 2: Sunday morning, January 7, 2018 Paphos, Cypress
Once again God gave me an opportunity to deny myself, to not do what I wanted to do, and to meet the need at hand. This is the cool part: though it was contrary to my desire, I did it with joy! A joy from the Lord that is my strength. I really wanted to be in the worship and teaching time this morning, but a missionary from France became ill and needed to be taken to a doctor. Angela and I took her and sat with her, then drove and picked up her medicines. It only took a couple hours but I missed a part of the conference I really wanted to be at. God diverted us to where He wanted us, to bless others.
Serving the needs of the saints is not always comfortable nor easy. But it is wonderful, because Jesus' yoke is easy and His burden is light. He carries us. He provides exactly what we need. He gives us capacity to serve. And He uses us for His sovereign purposes at any given moment.