Don’t give up now

From time to time, God sends those little bright spots into your life to remind you of why you are doing what you are doing.  Sometimes, that’s where we get our strength to continue on.

This was a difficult week, with difficulties and challenges from many directions. But, God sent one of those “bright spot” moments yesterday to remind me what He has put me here to do.

Mid-afternoon I received a call from the manager of an apartment complex where an elderly member of our church lives.  He told me that the man had been taken away by ambulance because of sharp pain in his left side.

I headed off to the hospital and, being nearer the hospital than he, I arrived before the ambulance and waited in the ER for him to be brought in.

This man has few people that he can call his “friend”.  He has no family around here, and the family that he has in other states shows no interest in him.  He lives alone.  His wife died in the 1980’s, and he never had any children.  I visit him once or twice a week, take him to the Post Office and grocery store, and wherever else he needs to go, and over the past few years I have come to know him pretty well.

All of the challenges of this past week were washed away when I saw his face.  They brought him in on a gurney, his face twisted in pain, fear, and confusion.  Then he looked up and saw me waiting there at the door for him, and an amazing peace and joy swept across his face.  I grabbed his hand and walked alongside as they carried him into one of the ER exam rooms.

“I’m so glad you’re here, so glad to see you here.  Nobody cares for me.  I can’t trust anyone to help me.  You’re the only one.  I’m so glad you’re here.”  Obviously he was in an emotional state of mind, but his words were nonetheless very heartwarming.

I thought, “God, thank you!”  There were so many things this week that had caused stress for me.  There were defeats and disappointements.  But none of that mattered now.  God used a few words from an old man to put it all in perspective.

The struggle really is worth it.  Even when you think your effort just doesn’t matter.  Even when it seems like the whole world is lined up against you.  Even when you look around and see just how few sincere Christians there are left in the world — how few really “get it” — your work does matter.

If the place you’re called to labor,
seems so small and little known,
it is great if God is in it,
and He’ll not forget his own!

Those are the words from the second verse of “Little is Much.”  Often the things we do for God seem so little when they have become routine and “every day” to us, but they really do matter.  They really are Big Things — we’re just looking with earthly eyes and not eternal.

God may give us a glimpse here below, but we really won’t know the true impact of our work for Him until we get to the other side.

Those who labor for honor and glory in highly visible positions … well, they have their reward.  It’s an easy thing for God to find someone willing to work for Him in return for money, position, and honor.  It’s an easy thing to get someone to do something in return for a good retirement package, a steady salary, and recognition.

But, it’s a difficult thing to find people who will be content to labor in obscurity, living day-to-day sometimes not knowning where their provision will come from, with no recognition, no retirement plan, no honor and glory.

Yet those are exactly the folks God is looking for.  He is looking for the one who will be content in whatever position He puts them in — whether they are wearing clothes from Goodwill and driving an old model car with 200,000 miles on it, or whether they are given abundance of this world’s goods.

God wants folks who are willing to live with less in order to do more.

I know that there are folks reading this that are on their last leg.  People who have sincerely served God the best they can and the best they know how, and you’re wondering if it’s really worth it.  You’re tired and exhausted, and it seems like you are opposed with every step you take.  Nothing works out the way you intended.  It seems like most other Christians are looking on with unconcern, wrapped up in their own little worlds.  You’re tired of being tired.  You’re tired of struggling so hard for a little grocery money. 

You’re tired of the car breaking down and not being able to fix it.  You’re tired of the plumbing problems, the “little” house repairs that are still neglected.  You’re wondering if you just made a bad choice, and maybe — just maybe — it would have been better to work a little more for yourself and a little less for others.  Disappointment and despair are encircling you in their black, vulture-like wings.

Don’t give up.  Your sacrifice is worth it.  Your work is not going unnoticed, nor will it be unrewarded.  You are working for greater wages.  Take your eyes off of the folks who have the material things of this life.  Try to remember that the fruit of your labor is not something you can readily see, and that only God will know the true, eternal impact of what you are doing.  Stop trying to quantify your “results” like an accountant adds up receipts.  Pragmatism is as far away from faith as the east is from the west.  Turn your eyes above — not to what you can see here and now.

Remember that Adonirum Judson labored for seven years before he saw a single conversion, yet in the end over 250,000 Burmese could trace their spiritual heritage to his work.

Serve God in feast and in famine.  Serve God when the car is running, and when it’s broken down.  Serve God when you have gas in the tank, and when it’s empty.  Serve God when you’re full of energy and enthusiasm, and when you’re tired and drained.  Serve God when the refrigerator is full, and when it is bare.  Serve God when people pay you for your work, and when they leave you hanging with a $2,000 bill.  Serve God when you can see the results, and when it looks like it just doesn’t matter.  Just serve God. 

Do your part and let Him do His part.  He didn’t put that desire in your heart just for laughs to watch you struggle.  He is the most merciful and loving God, embracing you as with the gentle arms of a loving mother, sheltering you as a mother hen spreads her wings over a precious chick, defending you before the enemy as a mighty grizzly defends her cubs.

It’s so hard in the body of flesh to see with spiritual eyes.  The tiredness of our muscles and bones and the disappointments of the day give a loud voice to the deceitful flesh.  But truth is not determined by who yells the loudest.  Truth is not determined by the one who writes the most books or has the biggest bank account.  Truth is not determine by the one who has the most people on their side.  Truth is God’s domain.  To see truth, we must look with spiritual eyes.

Don’t get out of the fight.  The work you are doing for God is worth it.  The little light and little pleasures and little reliefs you bring to other people are worth it.  Keep your eyes on others.  Continue to sacrificially serve others, even to your own detriment.  Wealth, honor, and material abundance are empty, deceitful vanities which more often than not serve to distract you from your service.

God loves you.  I love you.  We’re in this together — as brothers and sisters.  Hold the fort.  He’s coming.

4 Responses to “Don’t give up now”

  1. David "Bucker" Becker Says:

    Couldn’t let the moving words spoken by the Spirit through a man of God go unacknowledged. Powerful testimony and uplift for us tired ones out in the field, struggling daily to accomplish the things He Wills. Thank you for the encouragement.

    David “Bucker” Becker

  2. Kerry Sparks Says:

    Thanks for the words of encouragement. It is true that we can get focused on the negative, and forget the positive. I’m learning to look at each and every day for the positive things and trust God to get through the negative.

  3. Terry Says:

    Thank you for sending this to us. We have had several strugles in keeping our Christian t-shirt ministry/business going. Just let down after let down. God always seems to send an encouraging word when we need it.
    Terry
    christianwear.net

  4. Reginna Says:

    Thank you so much for your words. A year ago God brought us to this little town in the hill country of Texas. My husband is a health care provider and his services are desprately needed here. Things where great in the beginning but just as we sold our other health care facility and went full time here the business slowed to a crawl.

    Each day we get up and say today is the day the Lord has made we will rejoice and be glad. But lately it has become harder and harder to say those words. The money from our sale is quickly dwindling, we are so very tired.

    Your article has helped me take another deep breath and plunge back in. I will print it out for my husband when he gets home.
    God Bless you