I've been wrestling with what ministry looks like for me now that I'm no longer employed in a full-time ministry position. I have told college students for years that God has great plans for their lives, that they can change the world. And I never once told them they had to have special circumstances in place to do it. I just told them they only had to offer God themselves; God was responsible for orchestrating the rest. Somehow it's easier to be the messenger of such a powerful message. It's so much easier to believe it for somebody else.
On my birthday, my sweet husband asked me to read a passage from his library book. In The Cause Within You, Matthew Barnett shares the story of being at the end of his rope, ready to give up on ministry, on the dreams God had planted within him. It was then that God brought him to a chance encounter with an ordinary man of extraordinary faith. This gentleman prayed for Matthew in such a powerful way that Matthew returned to his dreams ready to step boldly into the future. This is what he says he learned from the experience: "There is life after giving up! You may run low on inspiration, but the dream doesn't die. The calling remains firm. You are not done giving people hope and new life until God says you're done."
In that moment I felt Barnett's words pierce my heart, bringing tears to my eyes. Life and faith still continue, even when our paths take an unexpected turn. From the beginning I have believed that this change in vocation was really an invitation from God to follow my heart's desire, giving my unrealized hopes and dreams a chance to be planted instead of buried. I guess I also felt that God's ability and desire to do something through me to make God difference in the world had been buried along with my old job description which so obviously gave me an avenue for recognizable ministry. These words of promise are like balm to my broken spirit, and so like Paul's assertion that God's promises to His chosen people are still viable: "for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable" (Romans 11:29).
It's so easy to focus on what I can't do, and so easy to forget that I serve a God Who creates the very universe out of the nothingness of space. It's so easy to forget that God can take the emptiness of what I have to bring Him and do the impossible with it. He's just that big. Paul goes on to express this later on in the Romans passage:
"O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways!
‘For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counsellor?’
‘Or who has given a gift to him,
to receive a gift in return?’
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever. Amen" (Romans 11:33-36).
So I'm still not really sure what the future holds. But God can use me. God wants to use me. More than I want to be part of His plan for bringing redemption to others, He wants me to be a part of His plan for bringing redemption to others. At least that is what I would tell my students. And to be true for them it also has to be true for me.
This is me trusting,