October 16, 2012

The LAST Thing Should Be the FIRST Thing

I don't know about you, but it seems like most of the time the LAST thing I do winds up being the FIRST thing I should have done. Whether it's taking action, caving in to worry and anxiety, assuming the worst about someone or something (or some circumstance that's even more out of my control than what I really realize), or even planning for the future, I often tend to walk these paths only later to look behind me - catch a glimpse in my rearview at the wake of what I've left behind - and wonder, "Why didn't I pray?" Have you been there? Are you there now?

I don't just mean throw up a few "Hey, God...if you're listening..." heaves of desperation, I'm talking about communing with the Father. Coming "boldly to the throne of our gracious God" and begging for His wisdom, discernment, guidance, and simply to rest in His presence. Why is this often the LAST thing we do?

This morning I was reminded that in "church work" (whatever the heck that actually means) we are sometimes more guilty of this than anyone. We get so entrenched in the DOING that we run away from the Lord, like a little kid at the mall. Only kids at the mall run ahead of their parents. We don't get AHEAD of God, we just wander off in what we think is the right direction. "Hurry up, would you, Lord! We don't have all day!" Where the Lord got my attention this morning was in Matthew 9:35-38. Jesus took pity on the crowds because they "were like sheep without a shepherd". So his instruction to the disciples was to "pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send out more workers for His fields." Take a minute and study those words carefully. Seriously. Read them again.

Notice a few things:

  • Jesus did NOT say, "Men, get your butts in gear and start recruiting more people. Come up with a better way to market this, fellas. Stop sitting around, waiting on them. Go get'em!" The FIRST thing He tells them do is PRAY.
  • Those of us in "the ministry" often get delusional - almost dizzied - and start confusing things, thinking that WE are in charge of "the harvest". We would be wrong. As Paul says in Corinthians, it is "God, not us, who make it grow... You are God's field, God's building - not ours." We're the workers. HE owns the field.
  • It is the Lord who does the sending - the calling and drawing - not us. The Spirit of God speaks, lures, breaks, captivates, and calls to the heart of the Father. We can't do that. Yet, if we're being honest, we often live, act, preach and lead like we think we can.
What are we called to do? PRAY.
What is NOT a means to end - a desperate cry for the greater work to take place - but actually the greater work itself? PRAYER.

Where is the need around you? Are you seeing that "the harvest if plentiful"? Have you prayed? Have you asked the One in charge of the need to do something about it?

We are called to make disciples.
We are called to "equip the saints to do the work of ministry".
We are called to plant, to water, to cultivate, and yet to always remember that it is ONLY the Lord "who makes it grow"

Let's return to the mandate of our Savior and consistently, constantly, fervently "pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; asking Him to send out more workers for His fields." Let's stop allowing the FIRST priority to be our LAST resort!

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