Summary: We may not all be pioneers called to go ahead of others ~ but we can all be part of the Lord’s Ambulance Corps.
THE AMBULANCE CORPS
I am indebted to “Springs in the Valley” by Mrs Charles E. Cowman for both extracts from the daily reading (reworded in parts) and accompanying poem for providing the inspiration for this message.
“They Shall Go Hindmost With Their Standards
What though the hindmost place is thine,
And thou art in the rear?
This need not cause they heart a pang,
Nor cost thine eye a tear.
The post of duty is the place
Where oft the Captain shows His face.
All cannot charge or lead the van,
All can be brave and true;
And where the Captain’s standards wave
There’s work for all to do;
And work from which thou may’st not flee,
Which must be done, and done by thee.
Among the stragglers, faint and few,
Thou dost thy march pursue;
This need not make they heart to droop,
The weak may yet be true;
Through many a dark and stormy day
The Captain thus holds on His way.
We are all called to be part of God’s great commission to reach the lost. Even if we have not been called to go and serve as full time missionaries in another country, we can still be a very important part of what God is doing to reach out with the precious love of His dear Son Jesus.
Our role may be to support and encourage others in prayer, with finances, to share our homes with those on furlough (I well remember one occasion having such a full house there was no room left for my wife Julie to stay ~ she ended up have to sleep elsewhere!).
We may have an opportunity to visit mission projects short term or take part in one off evangelistic outreaches in our communities; and having had the opportunity to do both I can fully recommend the impact that small teams of committed people can make even for relatively short periods of time.
A Blind Step Of Faith
I have to say though that my first mission trip was a blind step of faith! Whenever we go out on the Lord’s business we often go with a set aim ~ our mission! This was, I believe my first mistake. God has already set out our mission in Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 28:16 ~20, but to achieve it we try to draw up our own set of rules. I suppose we like to think that in some way we are still in control.
Going to the country of Albania during the Kosovo war in 1999 I went to convert as many people as possible and extend the Kingdom of God. Sounds pretty good I suppose, to be given this opportunity to help along the Christian message and make disciples of men. However to my amazement God had other plans for me: “I want you to put up shelves, wash the dishes and any other little tasks I can find for you to do.” “But Lord” I cried out “ You have anointed me to preach good news, what is going on? I was given this word in Church, I’ve come to preach great sermons and be hypersensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. But OK, if that’s what You want I will put up shelves and wash the dishes for You.”
Little did I know then about the practical ways in which God works but Jesus is our example and in many ways He shows us that we are sharing the Gospel even when we work in these seemingly small ways. All too often I think we are programmed into thinking that we are doing the things of God by the number of times we attend Church or even by how much we give to support worthy causes. But lets be open to whatever God is calling us to do for Him, even if it’s out of our normal comfort zone and seems to be a little scary! And especially if it seems small and unimportant. For however small our role seems to be it will make a difference to someone.
2. The Ambulance Corps
It has been said “There are three classes in the Christian life:
· The men of the wing
· The men of the couch,
· And the men of the road.
The first are those who fly before; they are the pioneers of progress; they are in advance of the rest.
The second are those who stand still, or rather lie still; they come not to minister, but to be minister unto.
The third are those who follow; they are the ambulance corps ~ they follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These are the sacrificial souls that come on behind. They are lovely in their obscurity; they do not wish to lead, choosing rather to be in the rear; they come forward only when others are driven backward. They want no glory from the battle, no wreath for the victory, no honourable mention among the heroes. They seek the wounded, the dying, the dead; they anoint for life’s burial; they bring spices for the crucified; they give the cup of cold water, they wash the soiled feet. They break the fall of Mary Magdalene. They take in Saul of Tarsus after he becomes blind. They are attracted by defects; every form of helplessness lures them.