Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14)
This is the answer we thought we had received from the Lord. Some hindrances came up during the application process with ReachGlobal, and it appeared the Lord was slowing the process down. It was difficult news to receive, but God constantly kept working on our hearts asking, “Don’t you think I know what is going on? Don’t you trust that I am in control?”
As it turns out, this month we are still heading out to ReachGlobal headquarters for the last stage of the interview process. We don’t have to wait at the moment, but God did open our eyes to a more accurate picture of His divine sovereignty and plan. Verse after verse kept being brought to mind about the God we serve:
Our God is in the heavens; He does as He pleases. (Psalm 115:3)
Even from eternity I am He, And there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it? (Isaiah 43:13).
All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ (Daniel 4:35).
After wanting to head to the mission field for so long, I (Mark) struggled at first with getting the answer “wait”. I was willing to accept it after talking with the Lord about it, but my initial response showed I had a huge issue in my heart to give to the Lord. Although I never would have said or admitted this, I was holding to the unconscious belief that walking with our Lord and listening closely to His voice would lead to ‘smooth sailing’ to the mission field. He graciously reminded me of Isaiah’s call into ministry. Isaiah was given an awe-filled vision of our Holy God in His Glory, and it led Isaiah to exclaim his own unworthiness, “Woe is me!”, and then to exclaim his willingness, “Here am I. Send me!” God’s response to His willing servant, “The people I send you to won’t listen to My message.” “How long will they refuse to listen?” Isaiah asks back. “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, houses are without people, and the land is utterly destroyed” (Isaiah 6).
Have you ever thought about this passage and applied it to foreign missions? God calls someone as His servant, but before Isaiah even starts the ministry God tells him, “FYI, almost all of them will never listen. They are going to be destroyed.” The first part of this story is used often in order to excite people about the call to missions, but they never get past Isaiah’s response of, “Here am I. Send me!” Much of American missions has become, “You give your life. You go to the ends of the world. You go tell the lost so that you can lead them to Christ.” A lot of people like me first went into ministry thinking that because we are willing to go to the mission field God will bless our ministry by leading people to Himself. But the premise behind this is unbiblical. What this is actually saying is, “If I am faithful, God MUST bless the ministry with what I define as ‘fruitful results.’
This is exactly what I still believed. I defined what I thought the fruit of my faith and service should look like. What God reminded me is that it isn’t about ‘smooth sailing’ and seeing the ‘fruit’ that we so desire. God does what He does for the glory of His name.
Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name, that He might make His power known. (Psalm 106:8)
He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. (Psalm 23:3)
For the LORD will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the LORD has been pleased to make you a people for Himself. (I Samuel 12:22)
For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. (Psalm 25:11)
For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another. (Isaiah 48:11)
Here is the true smooth sailing and fruit we are promised:
And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Mark 13:13)
But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. (Luke 21:12)
Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. (Matthew 24:9)
For the sake of His name God does what He does. God does what He does for His glory. Let us stop assuming how we think God will work or should work. Let us squelch the belief that what we define as ‘fruit’ somehow gives God more glory than what He has ordained to happen. We can be confident that the end results of faithful service to God will be glory for His name, but in our lifetime it may never look that way. Though we may have goals and desires for our ministry, let us never make our desired results the driving force of our ministry. If we do that then we will end up discouraged and feeling as if God had let us down. Let us change our focus to be like the brethren in 3 John 1:7. Let us also “go out for the sake of the Name” and “whatever we do, do to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31) We can be confident that, though it may not look like it to us, God is in control and is bringing glory to His name.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:8-11)