8.21.2007

Freedom and Ministry

This post is not really an attempt to share anything of value to anyone but me, but rather a rambling prayer request directed to others who are committed to abiding daily in Jesus and living out a life of intimacy with Him and usefulness to Him. If you read it and it doesn't make any sense to you, skip down to older posts and leave this one to anyone who feels called to pray for discernment for me as I struggle with choices for today and for the future.

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A friend recently told me "There are two kinds of Christians . . . ones who minister to others, and ones who are comfortable being ministered to. I am of the first kind, and it's how I cope with the places I have needs." I responded by saying that a life of faith requires both "kinds of Christians" to learn how to receive God's love through the hands of other sinners and to learn how to step outside themselves and be used by God to minister to other sinners. We really are all just "one beggar telling another beggar where to get bread" -- to quote my grandmother, who was probably quoting someone else -- and we cannot afford to forget our own neediness, nor can we afford to hoard all that He gives us out of His grace and mercy.

Another friend -- who is a "professional Christian" -- recently confessed that she needs accountability to go beyond 15 minutes a day of study and prayer as her average. I can see how that would happen as one makes commitments to serve others that are commitments upon which one's self-esteem, paycheck, relationships, and legacy are all based. Time and energy are limited, and if my time and energy are all committed to vital things, then there is no time left over to draw energy from the God that called her to full-time ministry. I don't have the arrogance to believe I would be any different if I took on the same roles and responsibilities that she has taken on.

I read Paul's words in I Corinthians about staying unmarried unless marriage was required to not be overcome by lust -- and his main point that our objective should be that we are as free as possible to focus on pleasing Jesus and accomplishing His purposes. Lust can get in the way of that freedom. So can marriage. So can many other things . . . like a commitment to academic goals or career goals or to please a group of people or even an individual person. Am I free to please Jesus and be useful to Him, or am I bound to fulfill other goals and responsibilities and promises? In the midst of those commitments, I am not always free to shirk fulfillment of others' expectations . . . but when I have not yet made a new commitment, do I dare make any commitment that will limit my freedom to be obedient in the moment unless circumstances or my sense of direction from the Holy Spirit really leave me at a place where the new commitment is not an option but is a requirement?

I love my time of study and prayer. My problem is not to consistently spend large-enough blocks of time in solitude. I have been given a life -- through God's goodness and through my own choices -- that allows me to manage my time and focus so that I am free to read, pray, study, serve, give, speak, love and follow any other possible command from Jesus with very few boundaries upon me. I am as rich in time and opportunity and as rich in a sense of intimacy with God and connectedness with people as I ever could be. I am rich in a sense of daily abiding and His daily word to me. He has given me everything I want.

Why would I make any change that might hamper me from the freedom to follow daily as He leads me moment by moment? Would I be more useful to Him if I had more credibility with others but less ability to be obedient?

May I be obedient today in how I use every minute, and may I be wise enough to not sell my birthright for a meal. May I have wisdom coupled with gratitude!

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