The Quest For Fulfillment
© Copyright, Grantley Morris, 1985-1996.
For much more by the same author, see www.net-burst.net
No part of these writings may be sold, and no part may be copied in whole without citing this entire paragraph.
Chapter 3: A Ministry Guaranteed
Waiting For Your Ministry
The Quest For Fulfillment
Most of us, ably supported by Satan, are unnecessarily harsh on
ourselves. This self-inflicted, satanically-enhanced torture can
wound deeply. We may presently be so hurt and agitated that we
can’t be sufficiently still to hear God’s call, or are too despondent
to amass the faith to embrace his challenge. In this and the next
three chapters, we will look to the Lord for healing and inspiration.
With our hurts healed and the pressure eased, we can maximize
the benefits of the remainder of the book and be equipped to enter
the fulfillment we were created for.
Portions of this book are devoted specifically to readers who feel they had their chance at ministry and have lost it forever, but we will start with more general considerations. Before we do, however, why not, for at least a few moments, passionately ask your Healer to touch you as you read these pages? From him alone flows everything you need.
Scripture’s silence implies Jesus spent most of his time on earth doing almost nothing worth mentioning. This impression is amplified by the shock registered in his old acquaintances at the thirty-year-old’s miracles. More astounding still is that even his teaching and wisdom surprised people who had heard him all his life. (Mark 6:1-3; Luke 4:22) Thirty years! That’s over ninety percent of his earthly life.
Dare we say that during this time the Sovereign Lord of Glory was useless, or a failure? The very thought is blasphemous! You know God’s Son is of infinite worth because of who he is, not for what he does.
Well, remember that you, too, are God’s child. You have already attained the highest status.
Real significance and fulfillment can only be found in your union with Christ. To seek them through what you do is to chase a vapor. For starters, it’s a perversion akin to parents looking to their children for things that should only be found in their marriage partner. Secondly, earthly service is temporal. Will you suddenly decline in value when age forces retirement upon you? You were created for the security that only God can offer.
To look to anything other than Christ for our sense of worth is like a commoner made royalty by her marriage to the king, hoping her trinkets will make her important.
Performers often gauge their success by how much people pay to hear them. The King of glory paid the highest conceivable price – the staggering cost of his Son’s life – just to be close to you. That’s how precious you are. Furthermore, he has made you heir to heaven’s riches, destined to reign with eternal honor. As God’s heir, you are of such mind-boggling importance that nothing – not even the greatest achievement – could increase your significance.
If we seem to be achieving nothing, it is usual to feel like second-hand chewing gum. No matter how real the feeling, however, to give credence to the illusion is to throw one’s brains away. It is human to suffer irrational feelings but only the hopelessly insane are compelled to believe those feelings. Only people living in a land of fairies and goblins have the right to surrender to feelings of inferiority. Though you feel as cherished as a lump of soap at a boys’ camp, to God you are priceless. You may seem as useful as an inflatable anchor, but with God, no one is useless.
Our mighty Lord can use anything for any purpose. Look at the tiny book of Jonah. God used a storm, heathen sailors, a sea-creature, a plant and a grub, as well as moody, heartless, rebellious Jonah. (Jonah 1:4,12,15,17; 2:10; 4:6 ff) Centuries later, the Lord even made a Messianic prophet out of the man who sentenced Jesus to death. (John 11:49-51)
One of the things that transformed the great evangelist D. L. Moody was the sudden realization that ‘It was not [the famous preacher, Charles Haddon] Spurgeon who was doing that work: it was God. And if God could use Spurgeon, why should he not use me?’
Was that same God who mightily worked in Spurgeon and then in Moody suddenly incapacitated when he took up residence in you? Dare you claim that your weakness could weaken God?
If the Lord could work only through people of a certain caliber, the Most High would be impotent and dependent upon human abilities. That’s unthinkable. Either God can move the world through you or he isn’t God. (E.g., 2 Chronicles 14:11; Isaiah 40:29) Incompetence melts in the presence of omnipotence.
So if the Lord appears not to be using you, it cannot be because you lack ability. In fact, God delights in displaying his majesty by employing those who seem hopelessly inadequate. (E.g., 1 Corinthians 1:26-29; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
And I hope you know enough about God to realize that it cannot be because he does not love you! What more could the One who died for you do to prove his love? Let’s not slander the Holy One by imagining infinite love is so fickle that it fluctuates according to a person’s physical attractiveness, popularity or talent.
By making you feel as if God loves you less than certain other Christians, it seems as if Satan is attacking your self-esteem, but he isn’t. He is attacking the integrity of God. He is hissing that God’s love is so inadequate that it is only people who have certain qualities whom God can love or be gracious to. That’s a lie! God’s love toward you is perfect. GOD IS FOR YOU. He’s cheering you on. He’s on your side!
In this world, success is often relative – the closer the relative, the higher you go. Don’t decry the system: remember who you call Father.
Christian, you are the focus of divine love; filled with the majesty of Almighty God; spiritually enthroned with Christ in his heavenly palace; granted the highest level of access to the greatest Person and the holiest place. (Ephesians 2:6; Hebrews 10:19-22) You are the work of divine hands, made perfect in Christ Jesus. And enshrined within your being resides the infinite power of the sovereign Lord. (1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 3:20) How dare you think you’re useless!
Top fashion model Claudia Schiffer has been nominated the most beautiful woman in the world. Yet as a teenager, she concluded from her lack of popularity at school that she was not beautiful. We make a similar mistake in assuming that if we are not popular with people, we lack what it takes to make it in a big way with God.
In 1943 five missionaries tried to establish links with an unreached tribe in Bolivia. Not only did they fail, it cost them their lives. It took the wisdom and perseverance of Joe Moreno, using an entirely different tack, to achieve what the five could not do. Joe was a sixth-grade drop-out; a middle-aged farm laborer with three children who had been abandoned by his wife. He considered himself unworthy of the title ‘missionary’ yet he achieved more than those he revered. The lower you are, the stronger God’s urge to lift you high. (Job 5:11; Psalm 113:7-9; Isaiah 40:4; Ezekiel 17:24; 21:26; Luke 1:52-3; 1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
If you have so far achieved little, it says nothing of God’s plans for you, nor of his evaluation of your worth. Prized silverware is reserved for special occasions. The fact that it is rarely used hardly means it is of little value. A craftsman will use some tools more than others, simply because they have different functions. Frequency of use in no way indicates quality, nor the craftsman’s pride in the tool. No one in a right relationship with God has a sane reason for feeling inferior to people who are used often.
Unfortunately, intellectual assent is easier than feeling inwardly convinced.
One has simply to consider the plight of skinny girls who see themselves as fat to realize that a wrong mental image of ourselves can be so powerful as to resist all logic. Anorexia can so grip its victims as to defy what their eyes tell them, what the scales tell them, what other people tell them. Such a mindset can kill. Spiritually, the forces of deception arrayed against us are no less intense and the stakes can be eternal.
Throughout our lives we are subjected to the brain-washing of a godless world that values even its own not for who they are but for what they do. It is vital that we counter-attack, constantly expanding our minds with God’s estimation of our worth; persistently rejecting the human vantage point. (2 Corinthians 5:16-17) Diligent attention to reprogramming our minds will slowly loosen the strangle-grip of those deceptive feelings of worthlessness. (Romans 12:2)
We need more than this, however.
While some mental patients have delusions of grandeur, we suffer the opposite psychosis. Relative to who we are, God’s children – even those with dangerously inflated egos – have delusions of insignificance.
The instant we were born-again, our status and potential rocketed out of this world, leaving our self-image floundering somewhere between earth and reality. The gulf between who we really are and who we think we are is so serious and so beyond our normal comprehension (Ephesians 3:19-20; 1 John 3:1-2) that we literally need divine psychiatric help. (Ephesians 1:16-19; Colossians 1:9; Philemon 6. The psychiatric definition of a delusion is a false notion that cannot be altered by reasoning or by demonstration of the facts.) A major task of the Holy Spirit is to help us grasp the enormity of what has happened to us. (John 16:14; 1 Corinthians 2:9-15; 1 John 4:13; Ephesians 3:3-5; John 14:26; 16:13) It is vital that we keep probing the Scriptures (2 Corinthians 4:6-7) and pleading for spiritual revelation. We are like paupers ecstatic because we think we have inherited $10,000, when we’ve actually received $1 billion. We live chronically impoverished lives and the less we know of our spiritual inheritance, the greater the tragedy.
So to mental discipline add the spiritual therapies of faith, prayer, study, revelation, and submission to the Holy Counselor. By drawing on these vast resources, banish every thought that having a ministry could boost your personal worth. Drown the doubts, insecurities and guilt feelings. Cling to the emphatic Word of God which affirms that God’s estimation of you is far too immense for human fame or shame to budge it. (E.g., Galatians 2:6; Ephesians 6:9; Job 34:19) Whether the high point of your Sundays is counting the souls you have won or counting the specks on the your pew, the King delights in you.
Nevertheless, as an eagle is made to soar, and a yacht to sail, you were made for ministry. As every father worthy of the name has a dream for his children, God has a dream for you. A powerful ministry has been God’s plan for you (John 15:16) since before the creation of the world. (Jeremiah 1:5; Ephesians 1:4) And Christ came to release you into all you were born for. As surely as the Son of God died to give you eternal life, he died to give you a vital ministry. (Romans 7:4; Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 2:14) It is as certain as your salvation that you will contribute to the glory of the majestic Lord of lords. (John 17:10; Romans 8:32; 9:23; Ephesians 1:11-12; Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12; 1 Peter 5:10)
We are often harassed by the fear that our lives will be unproductive. So let’s pamper ourselves, piling reason upon liberating reason why such fears are groundless.
Through Christ, God has gloriously equipped us to meet all his requirements, the greatest of which is that we love. Yet love is a useless frustration if we cannot express it by genuinely helping people. (Compare Proverbs 27:5; James 2:16; 1 John 3:18) So we can be sure that Christ, who wants us to love, will empower us to contribute significantly to the good of others and of God himself.
God has invested too highly in your ministry to let it fizzle. The invincible Lord has surrounded you with spiritual helps, not to mollycoddle, but to mold you into a key person in the advance of the Kingdom. God has given you a Bible, for instance, because he wants to train you for service. (2 Timothy 3:16-17) And this is why he has appointed pastors, teachers, and the like. Your Father established these positions not to do all the ministry but to equip you for ministry. (Ephesians 4:12) If the church is an army, the clergy are, at most, tacticians and instructors. I don’t know of many successful armies in which the tacticians go to war, and everyone else stays in bed. Each individual in Christ’s army has a vital contribution in the intricately complex and glorious purposes of God. (Romans 12:4-6; 1 Corinthians 12:7, 21-27)
Paul expressed the heart of God in a divinely-inspired prayer that his readers be ‘fruitful in every good work.’ (Colossians 1:10) This is the will of God for you; (2 Corinthians 9:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17; 2 Timothy 2:21; Hebrews 13:21; 2 Peter 1:8) the passion of the One for whom nothing is too hard.
Though the Lord is utterly unselfish, (Romans 8:32; James 1:5) for a moment we’ll look past this irrefutable fact to glimpse another truth. Even if it were somehow possible for the Giver of every good gift to be selfish, he would still give you a fruitful ministry because it exalts him. ‘Herein is my Father glorified,’ said Jesus, ‘that you bear much fruit.’ (John 15:8)
Every law of physics depends on the integrity of God. The fabric of the entire universe is held together by his word. (Hebrews 1:3) Nonetheless, you could distrust his intractable commitment to keeping his word and still have no excuse for doubting that he longs to make your life productive. Your fruitfulness glorifies God. If he did not employ you for his honor, he would be hurting himself.
Paint in your mind a single father who so loves his retarded child that he invests his life into that child, doing everything in his power to encourage, train and bring that child up perfectly. See people ridiculing the father for wasting his time on the child. See others criticizing his methods. The more that child succeeds, the more the father is vindicated and honored, right? And the more you succeed, the more the God who brought you into this world, nurtured and trained you, is honored.
If even a pip, buried in muck and forgotten, can produce a bountiful harvest, your life will definitely be fruitful. The Lord who ladens the vine with fruit that delights the eater, will ensure you bear fruit that refreshes the world.
It’s not my purpose to get into heavy Bible expositions. (Even in the last few paragraphs, the best parts are in the footnotes.) Just bear with me for a page while we get our facts straight. We can then stride forward in confidence.
We’ll start with the most complex.
‘Unto every one of us is given grace . . . ’ (Ephesians 4:7) This is the sort of verse you could walk past a thousand times and never find the hidden treasure. Secreted within that curious word ‘grace’ is something momentous.
Paul had used the term just moments earlier. (Ephesians 3:2,7,8) A retreat to these occurrences is most illuminating.
‘I was made a minister, according to the grace of God given to me by the effectual working of his power. To me . . . is this grace given, that I should preach . . . ’ (Ephesians 3:7,8 – italics mine)
Can you see it? In this context, ‘grace’ is a calling and empowering for ministry. (For further confirmation, see Ephesians 3:2; Acts 14:26; Romans 1:5; 12:6,3; 15:15-16; 1 Corinthians 3:10; 15:10; 2 Corinthians 9:8)
Adding our new understanding of ‘grace’ to our text unlocks what Paul was saying: every one of us is given a supernatural calling and empowering for ministry. Moreover, the verse continues, the equipping for ministry each believer receives is distributed, not according to our worthiness (thank God), or our abilities, but ‘according to the measure of the gift of Christ’. (Ephesians 4:7)
I think you’ll agree that there is nothing stingy about Christ! If for you he did not withhold even his last drop of blood, can there be anything he would keep from you? (Romans 8:32) Furthermore, his riches are inexhaustible. (A few verses earlier, Paul liked grace with the ‘unsearchable riches of Christ.’ – Ephesians 3:8) What measure, then, do you think God used when he infused you with his power for ministry?
I dare conclude you must be extravagantly outfitted for exploits worthy of the Lord of hosts. (See e.g., Colossians 1:29; Ephesians 3:20) Your invisible union with the Godhead has opened a floodgate. To underestimate the consequences is an insult to the eternal Fountain of all love, power, wisdom, ability and splendor.
If Paul has scrambled your brain, try Peter for mind-blowing simplicity:
‘As every person has received a gift, minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.’ (1 Peter 4:10)
Wow! That’s worth reading a second time.
To leave us in no doubt, a third epistle pounds the point, affirming that resident within each believer is a ministerial gift. (Romans 12:5-8) Moreover, it is not God’s intention that we fill our grave with this enormous potential still dormant. Romans, like 1 Peter, commands each of us to use our gift in ministry. That’s electrifying! We each have a gift, the source of which is the omnipotent Lord of glory, and he expects us to employ that holy gift in divinely significant service. Seeded within you is a divine endowment for ministry; a time-bomb set to shower everyone near you with the glory of God.
God’s opinion of our abilities far exceeds what most of us would dare imagine. Through you, the sovereign Lord wants to express his divinity, reveal his splendor and rescue a needy world – through your hands, your words, your personality. He longs to release you into all you were born for – Creator and creature working in union to accomplish the impossible. If within you there is any inadequacy, anything obstructing you from illustrious service, any genuine reason for feeling inferior, it was not put there by the Omnipotent One and he longs to brush it aside so that you can display his beauty. With your Lord insurmountable barriers dissolve into spider’s webs.
You may feel incapable of significantly contributing to the body of Christ; doomed to eke out a bleak existence on heaven’s unemployment line. But you now have sound scriptural authority for rejecting these notions as simply unpleasant, deceptive feelings.