A few weeks ago I was having a particularly rough day. Like everything that could possibly go wrong was indeed going worse! Listen, living amongst an unreached people group can be hard. You see sin all around you. I mean really presumptuous, evil and cruel people and it's hard. It's hard being surrounded by so few believers. It's difficult working in an area for three years and not seeing much fruit from your labors. (But hey, I'm not complaining...yeah, okay I am.)
I sat looking into the eyes of one of my ten year old students who had a smirk on his face after hitting one of his fellow classmates. He kept saying disrespectful things and my anger kept rising.
Finally, I grabbed him by the shoulders, looked down, not even able to look him in the eyes and said, "Dang you..."except it wasn't dang, it was the other word, the one with a mn at the end.
Yep, I'm a missionary and I cursed at a ten year old. He didn't know what I was saying, he doesn't know English, though I'm certain he could tell I was angry. The moment I said it tears started to fill my eyes, not because I said the curse word but because at that moment that was exactly what I meant.
"Go to hell, I don't really care anymore. "
Wow, I might just be the worse missionary ever.
For the following week, every morning I woke up and stared at my grass thatched ceiling with this sad overwhelming feeling.
I've nothing to offer anymore.
I am spiritually bankrupt.
Last week I heard a sermon on the parable about the man, who in the middle of the night had a visitor. He didn't have bread to feed this guest and so he went over to his neighbor and knocked at his door. "I have a visitor, please give me bread." The neighbor had already bolted his door and was in bed with all his children and told the man to go away. Yet, the man was persistent and knocked harder and harder. "Give me bread, you MUST give me bread!" He had a visitor and had nothing to offer, he NEEDED bread! Eventually because of the man's tenacity, boldness and annoyance, his neighbor got up and gave him what he asked for. (See Luke 11:5-13)
Jesus used this parable as an example of asking God for His Holy Spirit, which when asked for He promises to give.
" If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" Luke 11:11
I am bankrupt.
I used to think that ministering to others was more like me coming to God with my debt of $200 dollars. I put forth my $2.50 and ask Him to spot me the $197.50. Now I see that in actuality I don't have ANYTHING!!! Without God's Spirit, I am very presumptuous, evil and cruel.
I need bread...because I have none to offer of my own.
I need God's love for Didinga, I need God's love for people, because, as much as I'd like to pretend I'm bursting at the seams with it... I'm not. This I know, God loves Didinga, He loves them so much He sent His son to die for them, for us sinners! I need that kind of love!
I've been thinking about the story where Jesus goes to Peter, James and John after they had worked hard all night and caught nothing. Jesus tells them to throw out their nets into the sea and try again. Peter proceeds to tell Jesus how they had fished all night but, because Jesus said so, they would do it. Of course as the story goes, the moment their nets hit the water thousands of fish jumped into their nets until the boats almost sank.
Then, Jesus tells them that from then on they where going to catch men. (See Luke 5:1-11)
For the first time, while reading this story I asked myself the question... So, who caught all those fish, the disciples or Jesus?
Seems a ridiculous question to ask with such an obvious answer.
I mean, the fish were in the disciples' boats and they were caught using their nets, but it was Jesus who caught these fish!!!
I can't help but link the parallel in catching men. Perhaps this was a part of what Jesus was teaching them in this miracle? That catching men would only be possible by the power of God. Not in their own strength. Their own strength caught them nothing all night.
I'm gonna be honest, sometimes in life and ministry I feel pretty worthless. It's like I've fished all night and caught nothing. I mean, I've worked hard. Really hard! I can get frustrated. I was trained for this! I'm a pastor's kid; I went to Bible school; for goodness sake I'm a missionary!!!!!
But really, I am nothing. Without His Spirit, I am nothing but a well mannered sinner.
So today (and by God's GOD'S grace), everyday and most likely at various points of the day, I'm going to be asking for bread (His Spirit).
And since it is Jesus who tells me to put down my nets again...I will, because He catches fish. Oh yes, He catches evil, presumptuous and cruel people and transforms them by His Spirit!
We are spiritually bankrupt, but by God's divine power He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. ( 2 Peter 1:3)
Zec 4:6; Then he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts."