There he was, lying defiantly limp on the floor. All the other children were bouncing along their way to the next Vacation Bible School activity. Not this four year old.
And there I was. I’d had it. I didn’t even want to be helping with VBS. But there was no turning back. I decided to make this boy my mission – not in a ‘God’s love pouring out from me into his life’ sort of way, but in an ‘I will conquer his naughtiness’ sort of way. I sat with him, talked with him, showed him I could be just as stubborn, and tried to prod him on. Eventually, he just drifted off to sleep on the worn pew in the back of the Sunday school room. And I brooded about all the difficulties I was facing.
At home I angrily and tearfully slapped some sandwiches together for my four whining kids (oh, and did I mention I was pregnant with number five at the time too?). I did not want to go back for the rest of the week! I thought, ‘Lord, this isn’t fair.’ I needed a break like the rest of those moms that eagerly waved goodbye to their kids after dropping them off for the morning!
After lunch was cleaned up and my youngest was down for a nap, I dropped myself into a chair and came face to face with what was going on inside of me. I most definitely had not been walking in the Spirit that morning.
In fact, I came to realize an even more puzzling yet convicting truth – agreeing to help with VBS in the first place was not obedient. What? Serving not obedient? But the fact was that I didn’t even consider consulting God in this decision. I was led by obligation and duty, not the Holy Spirit. And how can I be pleasing to God in any capacity if it is not His will for me to be participating in the first place?
I should have prayed about it and then had the courage to say no. I should have given it more thought before fulfilling what I thought were my ‘duties’ to the church.
God impressed truth on my heart.
If we are not Spirit led, we rely on ourselves instead of the Holy Spirit for strength.
And we all know how well that works …..
I learned that sometimes God may want me to say ‘no’ to ministry!
Even the apostle Paul had to say no out of obedience to the Lord. Acts chapter 16 tells us of the marvelous work that Paul was doing in all the regions he visited. However, the Holy Spirit would not allow him to go teach and preach in Bithynia or Asia. It’s strange that God would say no to something that, to me, seems good. But God had different plans for Paul. If you keep reading in Acts, you’ll see how God used Paul elsewhere instead.
I do not know the mind of God, though I do trust Him implicitly. If God told Paul no to a specific ministry, might He not do the same for us? Might God have different plans than ours?
We are not responsible to accomplish every good work, or to say yes to every ministry opportunity. No one can possibly do everything! We are, however, responsible to obey the Holy Spirit’s directing in our individual lives.
Because we are far more effective for the Lord when we are Spirit-empowered instead of self-empowered!
Well, I finished the rest of VBS that week. It went well. Not because of the circumstances but because of my attitude. I knew God wanted me to follow through with what I had already committed to – in His strength instead of my own. I even had the privilege developing a precious friendship with the boy who had put me over the edge on the first day.
God taught me an important lesson: I need to commit myself to Him before I commit myself to tasks.
The crux of the matter is acting out of Spirit-driven obedience rather than flesh-driven obligation – or duty or striving.
Jesus was all about doing only the will of the Father. We must be too.