February 6, 2012

The Everyday Question

In ministry, there is a constant, uncomfortable battle that rages inside of me. It is not the big or dramatic: Will I Go? Will I follow God's call? Does my life--my marriage, my children, my ministry, my writing--belong to Him? The big stuff was settled a long time ago.
The constant ministry battle is more subtle, more everyday, more hideable. At the center is one question: Will I sacrifice? Or as Oswald Chambers says in My Utmost for His Highest: "{Am I} willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister?"

This is the question that isn't answered one time, upon entry into seminary or upon acceptance of a ministry position. This is the question that is answered everyday, every Sunday, every time I put my back to the plow, every time someone comes with a concern, every time something is required of me. It's a question of sacrifice: will I or won't I? Will I pour out my life as a fragrant offering before the Lord for the benefit of others? Or will I seek to have my own needs met, seek what's comfortable, pursue appreciation, or seek attention? Am I in this for God to use me or for me to use God?

Because ministry is not so much the big, dramatic acts of sacrifice, but the little, everyday, unseen ones.
Because we can be in ministry and not sacrifice.
Because we can do all manner of ministry activities and never be a living sacrifice, poured out for the benefit of others.
Because we are so easily deceived to think we can live for ourselves and be faithful to God.

This is the life God has for me, this crazy ministry life that is so rewarding and difficult at the same time. Honestly, I didn't have much say about it. God made it clear and then He confirmed it by giving me this man to marry. Like I said, those things were settled a long time ago.

But I do have a choice in the everyday things. Will I die so that God can live this life through me? Will I deny myself so that I am available for others? Will I look for people to bless me or look for ways to bless others? Will I serve out of obligation and duty or will I serve people like I'm serving God Himself?

Because out of self-death springs fruit that only grows with the power of God.

For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:11

For the love of Christ compels us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died, and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15