This morning I received an update on a friend who is now deployed to Kuwait as a chaplain. Ultimately he’ll go into Iraq with his unit. Stateside are his wife and children and the rest of his extended family and friends. My thoughts are with him a lot this morning, for obvious reasons. I know how much my friend loves his family. It was evident every time I saw them together. But my friend still finished up seminary and completed his requirements to be a military chaplain. Based on the unit he was assigned to, he knew deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan was likely. Yet still he carried through. Both he and his family.
I’ve been around the military all my life. I was born into a Marine family, went to The Citadel, and followed up with graduation by serving as an officer in the US Air Force. A few years ago, when I gave up my commission, it was bittersweet. I knew I wasn’t going to be a military officer any longer. God and I had wrestled with whether or not I was going to go back into the force as a chaplain. That wasn’t His will, even if it was my desire. So there was no point holding on to my commission. And so in one sense I felt a release from wondering if I would ever be called up. But I was also sad because it meant, for the first time in my life, I wasn’t attached to the military in some way. But I deeply desire for my ways to be the same as His ways. His ways are perfect. And that means I have to align my ways with His. My friend is of the same heart. And thus we have taken two different paths in our ministry. He serves with young soldiers, trying to reach them about God, counseling them, uplifting them, praying over them. I minister to youth, trying to do similar things. That’s where God has led us. And we have followed His calling.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20, NIV
I’ve wrote devotionals on these two verses before and here we are again. Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, of which we are now a part as believers. So the command given to them is also given to us. It is a command He expects us to act upon. We are to go and share the Gospel. And to those who answer His calling, we are to bring them into the faith through baptism, fellowship, and sound teaching. This isn’t a task just left to the ministry staff of the each church. It’s a duty of all Christians. But so often, whether we’re on ministry staff or not, we don’t do such a great job of answering this command. And the world suffers for it.
His ways are perfect. His ways will not change. His ways are the only ways that work. And His ways involve us answering the calling specified in these verses. As we close on another week, hopefully I’ve left you with something to ponder on. What is your ministry? Where is God calling you? Have you answered His calling? Speaking from personal experience, I can say that when I align my ways with His ways and follow through into ministry, there is no greater joy.