A month ago, J and M (names hidden for security reasons) landed in East Asia. This is M’s 3rd year of STINT. Don’t tell anyone. I don’t think people were expecting him to return because he surprised even some of his East Asian friends who were staying at his place to use the washing machine and DVD player.
The upperclassmen, like these guys, were already on campus when M, J and their team arrived. The freshmen arrived on the 10th. Since they just started their military training, they are easy to spot, too. In 3 days, M met guys in 18 different freshman dorm rooms. M didn’t go alone to the dorms though as some of the older students went with him. The students really own the movement and are motivated to share their faith. The seniors realize that they will be graduating soon and haven’t stopped talking about the need to replace themselves. They have the vision and know what needs to be done. Two of them - Punisher and Human Torch - are talking about going with M to a Muslim nation in three years.
Even as M and J’s team are walking into a sweet place of having mission aligned students on their campus, M shared that he covets our prayers to maintain his passion: “Personally, I’d love prayer for my walk with the Lord. I feel very little passion for Him, even as I tell people that He is the greatest thing in the world. And I find it hard to spend time in His Word.”
M's experience is common. It is a crazy paradox about ministry that even when things are going great its often hard to maintain passion for Him. Sometimes those are the hardest times. It is the danger of ministry. It is a warning all leaders should heed.
God invites us to come to Him. He desires for us to experience life, real life, a God-life that He alone can give. He is the fountain of living water while we are prone to expend our energy carving cisterns out of stone to store stagnant water; broken cisterns that cannot even hold water. (Jer. 2:13) He cries out from the dusty streets to come to Him and drink so that living water would flow from our innermost being. (Jh 7:37-39)
Isaiah 55 is one of my favorite passages. It's similar to these passages above. It’s not very long either – 13 verses – and is worth a repeated look. God invites us to come to Him and drink, to eat. It’s free. It’s satisfying. Why waste your money on food that does you no good? He offers life. He offers an unfailing love. He wants to display His awesome power through us. He wants to give us nations to command. He asks us to seek Him, to call on Him, to turn to Him, to return to Him. His thoughts are nothing like our thoughts and His ways are nothing like our ways. They are astronomically higher.
He wants you - not what you do.
In the midst of this passage of focusing on Him first, He ends with a promise that is pertinent to us serving Him. It’s a pretty cool promise for those of you who are not yet at the place of mission-aligned students like J and M and well as those of you who are. It's also a promise of what what he wants to accomplish in our lives that are often as dry as the desert. I will end with it.
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.” – Is 55:10-13