Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Privilege and Blessing of Ministry

Summer, 2016 is coming to an end.  I have long ago recognized that the concept of the lazy days of summer is unrealistic, but I do appreciate the more relaxed schedule and opportunities for outdoor activities that summer offers.  As we enter the Fall season of back to school and back to ministry, I am afraid that I sometimes “fall” into a “back-to-the-grind” mindset.  But I am coming to understand that the Lord wants more—and better—for me. 

Please consider with me a passage in C.S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  King Caspian of Narnia, along with his crew and Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace from our world, have sailed on a long journey from Narnia.  They have accomplished Caspian’s mission to find the missing Lords who served his father, but they have not yet sailed to the end of the world.  Many of Caspian’s sailors are tired and want to rest and then return home to Narnia as soon as possible.  But sailing to the end of the world is an opportunity not to be taken lightly.  As his sailors begin to grumble and groan at the prospect, please listen along with them as Caspian speaks:

“’Friends,’ he said.  ‘I think you have not quite understood our purpose.  You talk as if we had come to you with our hat in our hand, begging for shipmates.   It isn’t like that at all.  We…have an errand to the world’s edge.  It is our pleasure to choose from among such of you as are willing those whom we deem worthy of so high an enterprise….’  ‘Aslan’s mane!’ he exclaimed.  ‘Do you think that the privilege of seeing the last things is to be bought for a song?’”

It seems to me that continuing, returning, or beginning ministry endeavors is much the same as sailing to the end of the world with King Caspian.  It may demand much of us, but the reward far outweighs that demand.  We don’t have to do ministry.  We get to do ministry.  A friend of mine, a thoughtful pastor in the Bible belt, commented to me recently that he likes to say that they don’t use people to do ministry but rather they use ministry to do people.  Ministry is an opportunity to partake in the nature of Christ and participate in His kingdom purposes.  It is a powerful tool for the Lord to make us more fit for heaven as we use His gifts in relationship with one another.  It is a high calling and not to be taken lightly.

As we enter this new season, may we approach ministry opportunities as a glorious, heaven-sent invitation to join our Lord’s work in preparation for His party.