I've been teaching from a book called Hope Lives for the last 4 weeks at the rehab facilities. The focus is about what we have to offer in service to God and to our fellow human being. I am preparing the last week's lesson and am struck by these words by the book's author, Amber Van Schooneveld: "Here on earth, I'll never see the impact of the ministry God has blessed me with..." Her statement resonates deeply with me, makes me break down just a little. And I wonder ... what is this need to see the impact? To see the results?
I imagine it mostly has to do with my ego. If that is the case, then it's definitely a good thing that so many women drift in and out of my life without me knowing what becomes of them. Maybe I see them for two weeks, maybe three, maybe just once; then bam, they're gone. I have had access to thousands (and I really believe this to be an accurate number) of women over the last 5 years. Where are they? What has become of them? I could count on both hands the number of women I have ever seen again, mostly by chance in the mall or at the grocery store or Starbucks (or heaven forbid back at the rehab).
I think my self-esteem is also tied into this need. Today in particular, I am doubting myself; wondering, really, is this what I'm supposed to be doing? These thoughts are pretty random and drift in and out of my mind on a regular basis. Yet God often throws me a bone; has someone make a comment that whispers to those secret doubts within.
Just as we have to trust God to work through us to minister to the needs of others, we have to trust that the ministry is happening without seeing any "verification" or "proof" of it. (That is faith.) I seem to trust that God will work through me. He does every week. So often, I walk into class to teach and I think, I don't really have this all pulled together, God, I need your help. And somehow it all comes together; it happens, and I am completely aware of it as it does, and that it is from God. Yet still I wonder -- is it making a difference? Is it doing anything?
Better yet ... is this even a question I should be asking? I know the answer is no.
I was struck last week by a passage from Isaiah 58 that speaks to receiving what we give. It's the sort of thing I would expect Jesus to be saying (well, he did say that sort of thing). Here it is:
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
What a beautiful promise ... feed my sheep, tend my lambs; and in your day of need, when you will call on my name, I will answer you.
I know it is God's reminder to me to just keep doing what I am doing ... and let him worry about the rest.