Jesus’ earthly ministry lasted only 3 years. Why didn’t God allow Jesus to continue his work for 3 more, or even 10 more years, as that would have given so many more the opportunity to hear God’s Word, and choose to follow Jesus?
Jesus was planting seeds of truth as He spoke and taught the people. His disciples, though stubborn and ignorant so much of their time with Jesus, would learn that everything they had witnessed, heard and felt was about God the Father’s heart for his people. Jesus’ lessons of love were cultivated deeply in the hearts of the ones he chose to carry his message. The Holy Spirit, upon Jesus’ return to the Father, brought to remembrance all that Jesus had taught. Their lives bore the fruit of Jesus through their eventual ministries, which to this day continue to grow!
If Jesus had remained on earth longer, the Holy Spirit’s work couldn’t be done when and how it was.
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)
A sweet friend of mine has been asked to mentor different individual women over the last couple of years, and even though she has poured her time, heart and efforts into each one, they don’t seem to stick with the program for varied reasons. This was also the case with her leading a teenage girls’ small group. Less and less of them came to their meetings over the years, when it whittled down to just 1 or 2 girls showing up. She then struggled with choosing to keep trying, or just quit as it didn’t seem to be paying off. The beauty is, God doesn’t ask us to decide if it is a worthy cause. All He asks of us is to do our part, then let it go when its time, and He will take it from there. She has been planting seeds in these women’s and girls’ lives, and the hope is that one day they will grow and become fruitful. Her work will not have been in vain, because the Lord was in it all along. His timing is and always will be perfect. Our job is to trust in that. Our job is to obey and be faithful in it.
“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
We were previously members of a wonderful, active church in Marietta, GA. Within that church body is a Godly friend who has been diagnosed with an incurable cancer. Barrett and his wife have a ministry called “INFO For Families,” which helps parents navigate within their children’s lives as they deal with sexual challenges and pressures, as well as using technology with awareness and responsibility. Barrett’s future is uncertain as they continue to serve families while going through the process of finding medical wisdom and assistance. As they don’t know the outcome of his illness, no doubt many wonder how their ministry will continue – if at all – should God decide that he is to go home to be with the Lord. What is known is that they have already planted thousands of seeds of truth, wisdom, and faith in the lives and hearts of so many. For that, God will water those seeds, providing what they need to help them grow into things which are pleasing to God, of good use for His kingdom, and will bless those that have need their ministry’s previous work.
Remember Moses? His life had 3 40-year seasons, the last one being his main ministry. Yet in spite of how much the Lord used him, his work came to an end.
“Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: “I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’ The Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land….Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:1-3, 6
What season of your ministry are you in? Are you in the early phases or are you near completion? The point is, there are times for both sower and reaper. Your part to play in this time through your current ministry may end, but if you have done it well and for God’s glory rather than your own, then have zero regrets and no fear. It is time to move forward or change direction to whatever (and wherever) He has next for you. He knows what He has asked you to do, and when that is done, well, on to the next chapter.
Regarding Paul: he said, “…See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”
And because of his ministry, “…and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled”.
Inevitably God’s will WILL be done. Rest in knowing that He has used you, and will continue to do so on His terms. There is something comforting about that!
Food for thought: This is ministry: serving God through which something is accomplished. This is peace: result of living and working for and in God’s will.
Fun facts: Pastors now serve an average of only 4 years in Protestant churches.
Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Daffodils at sunset