I was driving home from my doctor's office this morning. It was so clear blue sky, with fresh snow down to the Hood Canal on our Olympic mountains. I had to drive to the water and look West for a few minutes.
I was praying after talking to my doctor. I have something medical that is very painful and inconvenient and there is not much that he can do to help. I can tell some days as we talk that he is a bit frustrated. Today I said, "don't worry about it Doc, we'll just look at the whole picture and you do your internist thing. This stroke and burning thing we'll just keep an eye on and not worry about 'fixing' anymore."
I was understanding his frustration because I am a trained and experienced minister and missionary who feels so incapable in doing much about the big problem we face: preaching the Gospel amongst the 100's of millions who have not yet heard. My physical condition makes 'going' much more difficult. I ministered in 27 countries during my time overseas. But I dreamed of visiting and preaching in 100 countries before I was 'done.
So, a couple of days ago (during Christmas) I was thanking God my Father for all He has done for me. But I was actually crying about things a bit. Because there is not much I can do in response to all He has done for me and my family. As a young missionary I generally had five or six projects going, in five or six countries, all the time ever! I hoped to see something big happen for Jesus. Now, my work is a lot of reading and a little bit of writing.
As I complained I had a thought that was pretty funny to me. I'm pretty sure he got the humor too, because I feel like I've learned something through all this. I thought to myself, "In 2014 I feel so ineffective, all I can do anymore is pray!" No more orphanages or drug treatment centers going up. No more training events for pastors from all over one country or another.
What's funny to me is that I remember discipling young followers of Christ and emphasizing as strongly as I was able that prayer, talking to Our Father, was probably the single most important part of our faith, our walk, and certainly our ministry. Hearing Him was the hard part. But hearing started with pouring out our hearts. Just look at how Jesus did it!
Building the Kingdom soul by soul always begins with someone praying hard for that soul. I was so busy at times, flying around and helping to build and administrate missionary endeavors, that I was too busy to pray like I always wanted to. I firmly believe that presenting every aspect of every ministry that concerned us, to God, is the secret to any ministries effectiveness. I always prayed at least one hour before I preached. Simple.
When I was a pastor in my home town I found time, 6 to 9 am. But when we saw exciting results (souls without hope getting saved) I felt and experienced the biggest slap down I've ever known: two more strokes (after 2 overseas) and brain surgery which left me useless. No longer mobile. No longer raising thousands of dollars. No longer preaching to people everywhere we could.
All I can do now is pray! Yet perhaps that is the high point and not the low point of my life of service. I'm going to talk to my Father about that.