Monday, April 17, 2006


Ministry is "the incredible call of an inadequate man to an impossible task for an indefinite period time." At least that's how one of my seminary professors described it. I think it's a fair definition.

A man that I am mentoring toward pastoral ministry told me "the enemy was really in my ears this past week." I asked him what the enemy had been telling him. He said, "He's telling me that I am not qualified to be a pastor." My reply probably surprised him, but I said, "He's right about that. You are not qualified. For that matter, neither am I."

Characteristic of the enemy is that his accusations possess an element of truth. The problem with the enemy is that his "spin" on the truth is not redemptive. We will often feel inadequate for what God is calling us to do, and we should. But "the rest of the story" (that the enemy will conveniently leave out) is that God loves to use "jars of clay" as containers for His glory.

1 Corinthians 1:25-31
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Samson was a mighty man, big man on campus and the judge of Israel. The irony of his story was that he accomplished more for God in his death than he did in his life. At the conclusion of his story he prayed to God for strength to “push in the pillars” on God’s enemies. God granted the request and demonstrated that a weak man, totally dependent on God, is more powerful than a strong man operating in his own strength.

In every world religion, man pursues God. Only in Christianity does God pursue man. Following is a poem that I have enjoyed through the years to describe God’s pursuit.

O long and dark the stairs I trod

With trembling feet to find my God

Gaining a foothold bit by bit,

Then slipping back and losing it.

Never progressing, striving still

With weakening grasp and faltering will,

Bleeding to climb to God, while he

Serenely smiled, unnoting me.

Then came a certain time when I

Loosened my hold and fell thereby;

Down to the lowest step my fall,

As if I had not climbed at all.

Now when I lay despairing there,

Listen….a footfall on the stair,

On that same stair where I afraid,

Faltered and fell and lay dismayed.

And lo, when hope had ceased to be,

My God came down the stairs to me.

C.S. Lewis wrote a series of books called the Chronicles of Narnia. The first of the series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, has been made into a movie, now out on DVD. They did a pretty good job on the movie, but there is an important part of the story they missed. It came following the resurrection. In both the book and the movie, Susan and Lucy witness the terror and sorrow of Aslan’s death at the hands of the Great White Witch and her henchmen. He is slain on this great concrete table. And then they witness the resurrection. But in the book, what happens next is a surprise.

“Oh children,” said the Lion, “I feel my strength coming back to me. Oh, children, catch me if you can!” He stood for a second, his eyes very bright, his limbs quivering, lashing himself with his tail. Then he made the leap high over their heads and landed on the other side of the Table. Laughing, but she didn’t know why, Lucy scrambled over it to reach him. Aslan leaped again. A mad chase began. Round and round the hill-top he led them, now hopelessly out of their reach, now letting them almost catch his tail, now diving between them, now tossing them in the air with his huge and beautifully velveted paws and catching them again, and now stopping unexpectedly so that all three of them rolled over together in a happy laughing heap of fur and arms and legs. It was such a romp as no one has ever had except in Narnia; and whether it was more like playing with a thunderstorm or playing with a kitten Lucy could never make up her mind. And the funny thing was when all three finally lay together panting in the sun the girls no longer felt in the least tired or hungry or thirsty.

What an awesome description of a relationship with God: Lucy couldn’t figure out if she was playing with a thunderstorm or a kitten. But she knew she was playing. The celebration of Easter is not just the resurrection of Christ’s body. It is the resurrection of a relationship, a playful one, between God and you.

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