Friday, March 07, 2008

This Is Why I Signed Up For Ministry

Hello All,

Many days in ministry are just normal days of "plugging away." Doing the normal things, like preparing messages, counseling brothers and sisters, and making arrangements for the calendar or bulletin. Some wonder, "How come we don't experience what they did in the book of Acts?" Certainly, there is little in ministry today, on a daily basis, that resembles the book of Acts. That is unless you see the book of Acts as the highlight reel that it is.

When you consider that the book of Acts is written with a purpose in mind, namely the extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit through very ordinary men, it goes without saying that just like any other story, the authors refused to talk about when the Apostle's slept, prayed alone in their rooms, or discussed the finer points of philosophy that would guide the newly organized body of Christ!

That's when days like today, remind me of the work of the Apostles in the book of Acts.

I only sat at my office for about 40 minutes! I left my desk and begun driving toward the Hospital. On my way, I got on the cell phone with Annette Brown to get an update on her husband Alan's condition. We spent about 35 minutes on the phone, talking about the Lord's goodness and the believer's victory, even in the midst of life and death circumstances. Generally, I feel very akward talking with people who are in such difficult circumstances. I often feel like I have very little to say. But I am always surprised that the Lord gives me words and gives what both participants need. Annette was comforted, and I was encouraged, by the Lord and by Annette's strength and faith.

I finished the conversation in the hospital parking lot, which was located right off of PCH. From the parking lot, I could see the ocean and feel the wonderful breeze. So many people were walking around the hospital and I was keenly aware of the different circumstances that brought us all to this place. I was thankful just to be visiting.

The woman that I was visiting, Laura, is facing her third bout with cancer. She is facing some very challenging procedures. She is also a single mom. I wondered, "What do I say to this woman that can be of any spiritual worth?" I prayed on my way in, asking that I could at least be a sympathetic voice. I entered the room, and Laura was sitting up, making arrangements for a procedure that I would not wish on anyone, but looking at me and smiling at my presence. When she got off the phone, she hugged me, introduced her Father to me, and began talking.

It's what SHE said that ended up being the great encouragement. She said that this cancer was her gift from the Lord and that she refused to be down about it. She recognized that God had used this to open doors of ministry opportunity and that she would continue to exploit as long as she was able. I just kept nodding, thanking the Lord that I was able to be there to be ministered to! We prayed together and I made it back out to the parking lot.

I was reminded then that I had promised a wife that I would call her husband. He has been out of work and was probably just a little frustrated with life. I parked my car in view of the ocean, and dialed the number, expecting to have to talk my brother up from the funk that he was in. Instead, God had already done the work.

He began with what God was doing in His life since the earlier part of the morning. He was infused with a new excitement about ministry opportunities and God's calling upon his life. He shared how God had been doing miracles with His marriage and even his employment scenario! I just kept saying, "Yeah...amen brother...exactly..."

God just kept doing wonderful things in the hearts of these wonderful saints, and I just got to participate and be there, not to minister, though I know my presence and concern spoke louder than any words I could have chosen, but to be ministered to by these faithful people, who are enduring through the most difficult of circumstances and their faith is not only evident, but is indeed flourishing.

This is what Acts is about and how it is continued today: The Holy Spirit, working in the hearts of His people in extraordinary ways. People who should be despondent, are hopeful. People who have every reason to complain, are praising their God. People who should be prayed for, are praying for people in their lives who need to know their Jesus! In the meantime, the one who is sent, just goes away excited and blessed to see the hand of the Lord, doing what I always preach that He will do in willing instruments!

I pray that if my time comes on this earth, to suffer in mind, body or employment, that I will shine as these have today. I am sure that their tomorrows or their "next days" may be less glorious, but today was a highlight for each of them and a highlight for me.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez


mhcowen said...

Too often we get caught up in the what can I do, what can I say mentality that we forget that Christ delights in a listening ear...a lesson hard pressed on my heart these days. Thank you for sharing the encouragement the Lord gave you and being willing to "just be there."

Frank & Lela said...

Thanks Cowen Family!