I did not ask for this ministry

There are ministries that no one asks for. These are the nitty gritty ministries in which people cry real tears. These are the places where hearts are broken and much time is spent listening to  a sad story for which you have no answers. These ministries take up time that you would have rather spent watching the new episode of CSI or painting your toenails.

If I had the choice, it would be much easier and certainly more glamorous to be a world renowned author, in which I steal away to a mountain cabin for a week to read and write to my hearts’ content.  Yes, that is the ministry I want. One where my heart does not get bruised and I am free to spend my days wandering down a forest  trails thinking up new and exciting book topics.  Yes,  this is how I would like to give service to the Kingdom.

Instead God calls us to ministries that no one, in their right mind, would want.  These ministries are reserved for the ones who have first walked through the fire of suffering.  After we come through, and usually only after, do we find our hearts drawn to those whose sufferings and questions and fears are the same ones we have endured and asked and felt. Somehow it doesn’t seem quite fair that He would ask us to minister in this way, constant reminder of our darkest days…..

But if you want “fair”…..as my friend says, “The fair comes once a year and it’s usually in the fall.”  That’s the closest we get to “fair” and I think I agree with Horace on that one.

Who asks for a ministry that involves……

……..husbands that cheat and we endure to the end, never giving up, so we can minister to women who are ready to walk away?

…….premature babies and NICU stays for longer than we can imagine and holding the wee one amidst cords and tubes nights spent hoping and praying………..so we can minister to moms who sit, helpless, waiting, hoping for a scrap of good news?

……financial problems, everything gone and the shame that stains the cheek?  Then God would call us to help the family walking the same path, this new simple life in which possessions matter little and people matter much?

……children that walk away from church and walk into the world with arms wide open and ears closed shut to the goodness of God, just so we can listen and understand a friend, on the phone crying, telling us her child is breaking her heart?  It makes no sense. It is not fair.

………walking a road of cancer, that despised thief that takes energy, a head of hair and leaves us weak and helpless for season?  We must  depend on the kindness and help of others.  And one day when we think this is over, we find we must  uplift another’s weak arms and listen to them share their fears of chemo and leaving their children way too early.

You see, we don’t get to pick our ministry.  That is highly unfair and I for one am most grateful for the unfairness of it all.  For the beauty of suffering is never fully seen until we see the glory of the One who brings us through.  He gives us enough grace for today and strength to endure for just today. No more, no less. We wipe the tears of our friends and sometimes strangers. We nod because we understand the pain and we have felt the frustration. We have sat alone, in our bathroom, the door locked with our fist in our mouth to block the scream that wants to come up and out from that dark place in side us.  Sometimes God brings us through in deliverance and sometimes He helps us sweep up broken shards of glass, then bandages our bloody fingers.

No one in their right mind asks to walk these roads and who wants to relive them over and over again as we are called to minister to pilgrims on those same roads?  We must. We are called by a Father that smiles at our earthly definition of “fair” and overwhelms us with His divine definition of “love’ and “compassion” and “ruthless endurance”.

No Horace, life is not fair. For that I am so thankful.  Thankful for the beautiful ministry I see in the lives of those I love.  Thankful that while all is not good, He has the ability to work it out for good, whether in this life….or the next.  “Fair” is best left for funnel cakes and tilt-a-wirls.


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