The Mystery of Ministry

We have been doing this for quite some time now. We have read scores of books, attended countless seminars and listened to excellent podcasts. I have my elevator pitch explaining our calling and ministry to college students down these days. And yet, every once in a while, usually when I am least expecting it, God graciously allows me to run straight into the deep mystery of ministry.

Yesterday was one of those days. I looked at my calendar and saw a meeting with a student, which is fairly common fare in our household. Yet, as I sat in my living room across from her with my monkey of a toddler climbing all over my back, listening to her life, her struggles, her questions, something was profoundly different.

The weight of an impossible calling hit me like a shipment of cinder blocks from above. We are called to do an impossible thing; and it’s not just those of us over here in the vocational ministry department. Every believer, every one who has been called as a son or daughter of God, has been entrusted with the role of being an ambassador for Christ.

Now all these things are from God who reconciled us to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.  2 Corinthians 5:18-21. 

I memorized those verses over a decade ago. I could recite them in my sleep. I could probably explain to you the meaning of the Greek words behind them. But yesterday, I was drawn again, as for the first time, into the deep mystery of this calling upon our lives.

I can bake cookies for college students. I can listen to them cry through deep valleys and breakups and incredibly hard stories. I can stay up until 3 am on retreats. I can do silly dance parties even though I feel a grandma wearing her momma jeans. But even if I could recite every verse in the Bible with the eloquence of an orator or an angel (which I cannot), I can not make people see Christ as the stunningly, shockingly beautiful God-man that He is.

But we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both the Jews and the Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:23-24

I am so glad that Jesus was and is far more patient with this impossible process than I am. He is far less frantic and far more faith-filled when it comes to trusting in the plan and ways of His Father. I wrote this poem to remind me that, to God, this mystery of ministry is a beautiful truth, a truth that pushes His children to cry out to Him, the One for whom impossible work is quite possible, even probable.

Crying Out

The blood of Abel screamed at you;
You wouldn’t let suffering fly.
You rent the skies and came to earth,
A perfectly unjust death to die.

Yet people raise their fists at you,
Accusing you of gross misdeeds;
In our blindness, we rant and rage,
All the while your blood quietly pleads.

I wish that you would scream sometimes,
Shout even louder than the lies.
“That’s not my way,” you assure me,
“My all-sufficient blood silently cries.”

“I will not ravish; I can only woo;
Love to be love must be free.”
But all the while they trample on you,
And the injustice is getting to me.

Oh, open their eyes, so they may see
Your perfect and beautiful Son,
And the unfair way you punished Him,
That rebel souls might be won.

I long that they would see you
In all your fearsome beauty;
I wish I could open their eyes,
But that is not my duty.

All I can do is cry out to you
The burden you’ve planted in me;
It’s your heart in my heart pleading
For more souls with eyes to see.

The day is swiftly coming
when your beauty will plainly show,
But until then, we work and pray
that more your grace will know.

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