For this month's special occasions, my oldest nephew put together a family video called "Passing the Cup". The 17 people involved are from five different homes, three different states, and three different time zones. We each recorded ourselves taking a drink from our cup of choice and bringing the cup up to the camera as if we were passing it to someone. The compilation was all of us, from various places around our homes, spending time together, but apart. We continued this activity when we did a video chat with everyone on Mother's Day. Some of us are more restricted than others, but we were all allowed to be online. So many blessings from technology!
I continue to miss the people I grew up with and raised me, who will always call me family, but I cannot miss out on what God has called me to do. I have been involved with ministry for many years, but mostly on a volunteer basis. I married my husband before he became an ordained pastor, but we were already serving together in the church. We both grew up watching the adults around us serve in our church, and serve in the community. None of our parents were selfish when it came to raising their children. They sacrificed more than we will ever know to take care of us. Now, we are the parents, raising our own children. They are carefully watching us, listening to the words that come out of our mouths (but only when we are not talking to them directly), and mimicking the way we treat others.
Our current sermon series is in the Book of Joshua, which is in the Old Testament. It comes right after Deuteronomy. In the last chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses (the man who helped lead the people of Israel out of Egypt) dies. The Lord shows Moses the land that He has promised to his forefathers, but will not allow Moses to enter it. The land is still promised to Moses' offspring. God commissioned Joshua to succeed in leading His people into the Promised Land. Joshua had already been made a military leader for the people of Israel (Exodus 17). He was also one of two spies out of twelve that believed they could take the land of Canaan, if they stayed in God's favor. God ended up punishing his entire generation by not allowing them to enter the Promised Land, but allowed Joshua and Caleb to do so because they were faithful.
We may not see the end to what we have started. The fruits of our labor may not be for us to witness. Starting something does not always mean finishing it. Many times, someone else will be the one to continue the work. I have rarely been the first person to do a certain job or hold a leadership position. Whatever I do, though, I hope that I do it well. I hope that I do my best because I want to do everything as if I am working for the Lord himself. I also hope that I am showing someone else how to do the work that I am doing because I will not be doing it forever.
I hope that you have found a place to serve. It may be at your church, or somewhere in your community, but very likely it has at least been in your home. I understand that some things must be done in secret, but not everything. Show others how you do something! Write down that favorite recipe! I let my kids cook with me sometimes. I try to clean with them so that they know what to do. I read with them, not just to them. I teach them some strategies on playing games and how not to get dizzy when spinning around. If someone is mentoring you, then pay attention! There is always something to learn, even if it is how to NOT do it.
When passing our cups in my family's video, we each did it differently. None of the cups we were using were the same, nor the looks on our faces. To see three generations (and 17 people) do something different with the same instructions and still have it come together is pretty awesome. I think that is what God has had in mind all along! He did not create robots who worked on automation. Every one of us was created in His image (Genesis 1), but He still gave us all a chance to choose. He wants us to love Him, but He has never forced us. He gave the world His Son, but He forced no one to accept Him. What He did do, though, was teach us. If you have a Bible, then you have people to learn from, with both good examples and bad.
I hope I can encourage both current leaders and workers, and those of a new generation. My mind is full of ideas, and I do not know if I have conveyed what I wanted today. I hope you can apply something I have written in your lives. Not everyone is in full-time ministry or even meant to be a leader, but if you are a follower of Christ, then you have been commissioned too.
Deuteronomy 31:7-8 English Standard Version (ESV)
7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel,“Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. 8 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
Matthew 28:16-20 English Standard Version (ESV)
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”