Last July, our family of seven moved to Mexico to join Global Education Ministries as overseas missionaries at the Manantial School. We became immersed in a culture that was so foreign to us that it left us clawing for some form of familiarity and identity. Our response to this feeling was to get to “work”.
We sought to make things happen that were not yet ready to happen. We would overreach our mandate, attempt a shallow form of evangelism, or try to perfect some part of our jobs. The level of activity was extremely pressured and I felt manic…wanting to see everything happen NOW. Praise God He didn’t let us stay there long.
My wife suddenly got shingles on her face, and this sickness led to some of the hardest weeks of our lives. All of our work and striving came to a screeching halt for two full weeks, while my wife was bedridden. I mostly stayed home and cared for her and the children. It forced me to pray constantly and to begin calling upon God more fully.
I would equate this time in our lives to a car getting four simultaneous flat tires right as it hit the gas to plunge over a huge cliff. God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that this trial would save us before we could wreck everything. This situation, along with several other exceedingly difficult trials to follow, began new humbling in our hearts.
In the midst of the suffering and difficulty, God gave me a treasure of a verse to help me through, even as I thought I was doing “God’s work” as a missionary going 90 miles an hour to press “His” agenda. In the gospel of John, right after Jesus fed 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish and then walked on water, Jesus explains that He is the bread of life. At this point, Jesus really has the ear of the disciples after what they have witnessed. The disciples, who are completely intrigued by this miracle man, ask Jesus this question, “What must we do to be doing the works of God?” And Jesus answered them, “this is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
This verse put me right in my place. I had been seeking to “do” the work of God, but I was not resting and believing. On the surface, I would have told you I believed more strongly than before, but I deceived myself and believed a lie. A dominant thought current running through many of us Christians is that the more we DO God’s work, the more loved we are….that somehow we can earn God’s love and favor.
99% of evangelical pastors, leaders, and missionaries would agree that we can’t earn God’s love…but it’s a different thing to think something than to live and rest in it. Our human drift is towards capitalism, whereby we seek to achieve, succeed or win with relationships or the market for our purposes, comfort, or increase.
Do you strive to make things right? Do you work tirelessly to be the cause of the desired fruitfulness in your life? Do you try hard to escape the suffering you so fear? OR…Do you, at your core, rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Do you, at your core, know that your human efforts are spiritually fruitless? Do you, at your core, see suffering as the means by which you are cleansed, disciplined, and crafted into His image?
Do not work for the food, results, status, or material that perishes, but believe in Jesus who God sent to free you and give you all that you will ever need in Him. See what happens when you are transformed to let your work be to believe. Let your new sweat be envisioning what Godly result you want for your friends in His name. Let your new mission be to cry out to Him, in belief for your family’s deliverance. Let your new craft be to ask and believe God for business effectiveness, gospel witness, and a prosperous rejoicing in His name. Let your new trade be to believe in God’s promises for your church by seeing Jesus lifted up and your members unified, sanctified, and witnessing to the power of the gospel.
When you find yourself looking to yourself for effectiveness, change this focus into examining yourself solely to see how you and your thoughts are hindering belief in what was accomplished at the cross and then agree to simply rest in that finished work. Do you believe it is finished? Rest and pray. He is faithful. “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24
Rob and his wife, Mauri, were married in 2004 and have been blessed with 5 children (2 biological and 3 adopted). Rob has a Master of Education degree in Counseling and Development from Winthrop University. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor, who also has many years experience teaching children of all ages. Rob is currently serving as the 7th grade Bible teacher and School Counselor at The Manantial School in Mexico.