Summary: From the calling of Abram to our day, God has always blessed His people so that we might be a blessing to those who do not know His grace, mercy, and salvation.
Blessed To Be A Blessing!
I can’t tell you how blessed I have been this past week, but I can tell you that I was dreading this week like the plague. I have known for several months now that we were going to be hosting ten pastors from across the nation who would be with us for three days, but I didn’t realize that their visit would come at a most inconvenient time. During the week before their arrival I could not get my mind off all that needed to be done and all that would be left undone for three days while I would be with the group. If I could have had my way, if I could have somehow changed the plan, then I would have told the ministers that we really should do this some other time. I am so glad that I did not have the freedom to cancel what God had ordained.
On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this past week we had pastors with us who serve the Lord in urban Detroit, Baltimore, Seattle, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Tacoma, WA., Wichita Falls, Eugene, OR. and one pastor from Oklahoma City. They came to be with us to seek the Lord’s leading for their ministry and congregation. What happened was beyond marvelous - it was miraculous!
I listened to them share their stories with me and the other pastors who were present. I heard of their struggles, frustrations, joys, and passion. I have never been so humbled as when I heard one pastor tell of how she has served the same congregation for fourteen years. She lives on the second floor of the church and she said, "I have to walk by my office on the first floor to get to the bathroom. I have a hard time figuring out when I am at work and when I am home." We listened to her share her story of God’s faithfulness in an extremely difficult environment. After she finished sharing her testimony we all gathered around her to pray. While we were laying hands on her and praying she began to weep. The weeping turned into wailing...loud wailing while we prayed. After we finished our prayer time she looked at us and said, "You know what hurts the most? When your colleagues in ministry marginalize you because you minister to the marginalized. They don’t understand why I do what I do so they distance themselves from me." For nine of her colleagues to gather around and lift her up to the Lord, to value her labor for the Savior, that broke her heart with joy.
Another minister from Detroit, Michigan shared his story by beginning with these words: "I have been in Detroit for 11 months, 2 weeks, and 3 days and it has been hell. I know you didn’t expect to hear that, but I need to be honest with you. The pastor who preceded me abused the people and so now they don’t trust me."
In the midst of deep feelings of loneliness and insignificance, I saw people from our church shower these precious pastors with love and honor like they had not received in a long time. Your hugs lifted their spirits. Your ministry gave them hope that the God who is able to turn this church around can turn their church around as well. I saw God move upon their hearts and mine. When they finally left on Thursday afternoon I was overwhelmed with what God had done through our church family to be a blessing to those who had come from so far. There was one conversation that jumped out at me and taught me a lesson I will never forget. Let me share it with you.
On Thursday morning we were talking about everyone’s experience and trying to determine if our time together was something that would be beneficial to try again in the future. The pastor from Seattle said, "I don’t want anyone to get the idea that our time together hasn’t been a blessing to me. This has been so inspiring and I have been incredibly blessed, but I have to decide I can be part of this group. I only have so much time and I have to see if this is something that will be a good fit for my time." After he spoke one of the ministers from Detroit, an elderly man named Rufus Lewis spoke up and said, "I want you to know that whether this has been a blessing for you or not, all of you together have made this the most remarkable experience I have ever had." He said, "You know, sometimes the Lord calls us to do something that isn’t necessarily for us, but it is for someone else."
Rufus’ words reached out and grabbed me like a vice. Rufus hit on something that is at the heart of our faith - God has called us to be a blessing for those around us. The Church was given birth by Jesus to bless those who do not know of God’s blessings! We have been saved by the Lord to give our lives to His service. Just last Sunday night Joe White shared with us about Paul’s statement towards the end of his life. Paul said, "I am a bond servant, a slave, of Jesus Christ." My life is not my own. My happiness is not my goal. My comfort is not my aim. My loss is Christ’s gain. I have been blessed to be a blessing, not to linger in my blessedness.