As I ponder the beginning of 2018, I am drawn to the idea of this temporary life. You see, my birthday is a couple of days before the New Year so I don’t think about life until my age increases. Ministry can be trying at times, but one thing it always is…time consuming. ‘Time flies when you’re having fun.’ Well, I’m not so sure fun is the full-time emotion in ministry, but time sure does fly. My kids are grown and pretty much self-sufficient. My parents are aging and medical situations are common. Aches and pains are more constant than they have ever been.
So, how can I face another year where it seems that I am getting more and more useless to God? The old hymn by Palmer Hartsough rings in my mind.
“I am resolved to go to the Savior, Leaving my sin and strife. He is the true One, He is the just One, He has the words of Life. I will hasten to Him, Hasten so glad and free. Jesus, Greatest, Highest, I will come to Thee.”
It really doesn’t matter who we are. Jesus will use what ever we have to give. As the disciples were following Jesus through a Samaritan village and on to Jerusalem, Luke 9:57 “As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
The main idea of life is to be willing to follow Jesus, but He doesn’t stop there. v.v. 58-62 completes the invitation. “And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
When we follow Christ, we need to understand that it is serious. This fellow said that he really wanted to follow Jesus. Jesus in turn told him that they had no address, they slept wherever they stopped. He was still willing to follow but he had to wait for his father to pass. Caring for the elderly; maybe not. There is no indication that his father was dead yet. So He wanted to follow Jesus when it was convenient. Another guy came and said, let me just go tell my family bye. Jesus seems to refuse his request.
Why is Jesus so harsh? You see, He knows that if we leave anything behind, we will always think of it. He uses the analogy of a plow. Tractors today have GPS and it is nearly impossible to get out of line. However, they would have used a mule or ox with a walk-behind plow. Imagine trying to plow in a straight line while looking behind instead of ahead. Then you’re letting the beast lead the way. That furrow would be a mess.
Jesus needs all of us. If we are not willing to leave things behind, it is better to stay. Ministry can be messy, but it must be organized. When we serve God, He comes first. This is not denying your wife and kids, they should be plowing right alongside of us. Service to God is time-consuming, and time flies when you’re having fun; guess ministry is fun after all. “I will hasten to Him, Hasten so glad and free. Jesus, Greatest, Highest, I will come to Thee.”