One of the challenges of being a follower of Jesus Christ is sometimes the things He asks you to do.
While in my second year as a Bible college student, God spoke to me and told me that He wanted me to serve Him that summer, working as a Child Evangelism Fellowship summer missionary in Saskatchewan. The very thought of doing that frightened the dickens out of me.
What that entailed was going into a community in Saskatchewan, where prior arrangement for me to stay a week had been made. I would arrive Friday evening and then on Saturday morning, canvas the community, handing out invitations for children ages four to twelve to come to a “Backyard Bible Club” that various people in the community had been asked to host. Then on Monday through Friday, for one hour at a time, four times a day, I would go from home to home and teach the children about Jesus.
I spent July and August doing that in the summer of 1967. As I look back that was one of the most difficult things I ever did and yet it was probably the most effective preparation for me to be a lifelong pastor of a church. As an introverted teenager, I was desperately afraid of any sort of public interaction and I feared what people might think of me. But somehow, I found the strength and the courage to do what God had called me to do. I am still amazed at the boldness I had that summer.
I believe that came to me from the God who had promised that whenever we spread the Good News about Jesus, He will be with us: “Go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this–that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”
The other day, I read the story about a young man who had been blinded as the result of a chemical explosion at age of 13. He said that when that happened, he felt lke his life was over and he hated God for it. For the first six months he did nothing but sit alone in his room. One day his father said to him, “Winter’s coming and the storm windows need to be up—that’s your job. I want those hung by the time I get back this evening or else!”
Then he turned, walked out of the room and slammed the door. “I got so angry,” said the young man. “I thought, ‘Who does he think I am? I’m blind!’ Though I was very angry, I decided to do it. I felt my way to the garage, found the windows, located the necessary tools, found the ladder, all the while muttering under my breath, ‘I’ll show them. I’ll fall, then they’ll have a blind and paralyzed son!’ But I finally got the windows up.
I found out later that never at any moment was my father more than four or five feet away from my side.”
So also, when God asks you to do something for Him, He is never far away. He is with you always.