This weekend has been a very emotional one for me. It all started last night when the JF kids put together an amazing Praise Night. It was phenomenal. The Spirit of God was hovering, and I could just feel His presence. I know He was there. He told me that through it all (in the storms), His eyes are on me, not the other way around. It was also beautiful that in a praise night organized solely by the kids, God spoke to me in a way I haven’t had a chance to hear for a while. God truly uses all that is offered up to Him and I could sense God being pleased with this worship offering by the kids. Sure it wasn’t perfect but they gave Him their all. And I was so proud of the kids, and overwhelmed by the realization that this is our next generation! It also made me see how God blesses His people throughout generations. These are kids of aunties and uncles who have been faithfully serving in the church for decades.
However what really impacted me were the 4 sharings by the kids. They shared about their struggles and their walk with God and it was the struggles that really hit me. I cried during their sharing and I felt so sad as I listened to what they had gone through because I had no idea that that was happening. And then I felt a heavy sense of guilt and shame for not being there for the kids, for not being the one who got them out of it, for not being the one who said that one profound line that changed their life, for not even being the one that they felt that they could confide in. I have been noticing particularly this year that the kids don’t confide in me and are not as close as some were in previous years. Sometimes they would mention certain things when I probe but not often. And so it makes me feel like I should no longer be serving in this ministry as I’m not effective. Sure there’s the painful feeling of rejection but it’s not only that. It’s the realization that perhaps I’m not a fit there and that I don’t have the gift for this age group. That other people would be much better suited for it especially if the kids like them better. The issue isn’t just that there isn’t visible fruit in what I was doing, because if that’s it then I need to know that God is the one in charge of bearing the fruit. He kept reminding me of this verse as I struggled:
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe-as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.
And also in Oswald Chamber’s wise words…
If you become a necessity to someone else’s life, you are out of God’s will. As a servant, your primary responsibility is to be a “friend of the bridegroom” (3:29). When you see a person who is close to grasping the claims of Jesus Christ, you know that your influence has been used in the right direction. And when you begin to see that person in the middle of a difficult and painful struggle, don’t try to prevent it, but pray that his difficulty will grow even ten times stronger, until no power on earth or hell could hold him away from Jesus Christ. Over and over again, we try to be amateur providences in someone’s life. We are indeed amateurs, coming in and actually preventing God’s will and saying, “This person should not have to experience this difficulty.” Instead of being friends of the Bridegroom, our sympathy gets in the way. One day that person will say to us, “You are a thief; you stole my desire to follow Jesus, and because of you I lost sight of Him.”
John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
(My utmost for His highest)
So it is not up to me and I need to stop thinking that it is by my works.
But this incident made me ponder upon why I needed to feel needed and confided in. This need to make an impact. Why is it that I want to be the one to help these kids out of their slumps and be that profound saviour in their lives? Is it because of pride? Since I know that it’s not me who is doing that work but that it is God, perhaps I’m afraid that I have not been letting myself to be used by God. Or that God isn’t using me and so I’m afraid.
If I felt that God wasn’t using me in this ministry, the guilt really stemmed from the feeling that I wasn’t doing enough, and that I wasn’t trying hard enough with the kids. Am I not or am I just not fitted for this role? I feel like thinking that I’m just not fitted for this role and so leaving the ministry is easy to do whereas the other is much more painful. It looks deep into this guilt, and that is hard but necessary because it is going to turn up again, especially because my job is of a similar nature. So perhaps I’m afraid that my works will get tossed in the fire because I didn’t do them well and that I really haven’t been trying hard enough. I was burnt out for a good first half of the year, and while I feel like I did what I could, sometimes I took the easy road out, especially when I’m tired. And so perhaps I am still looking to my works for God to be pleased with me. Perhaps I’m still trying to earn my way into heaven. But what happens when what you do has no impact? I guess I’m worried that God will not be pleased with me and what I do because it’s not good enough.
As I try to navigate where I stand in JF as well as my career as an advisor, I need to penetrate deep down into my own motivations and desires. I want to be that friend who opens up the roof to bring my friend to Jesus. But at the same time, why do I want that? Is that so I can feel good about myself? Or is it truly because I want to bring my friends/students/kids to the feet of Jesus and say, look to Him, Jesus is all you need, not me. And so when I am not doing enough, because this guilt is warranted by the fact that I know I have not been doing enough, and that I will never do enough, how does the grace of Christ set me free? My works should not be done out of guilt, but out of deep gratitude towards Jesus and what He has already done for me.
And perhaps that’s truly what I’ve been struggling with.