Within these few powerful
sentences, Jesus charged His church with the Great Commission. Two
thousand years later we find ourselves still working hard to carry out
this enduring command. In this world of ever-changing technologies, we
are seeing an acceleration of the Great Commission taking place across
our planet. We live in exciting times.
Not all of us are called to
travel the globe, preaching the word of God to lands yet untouched by
the gospel. Praise God for those who do. Fortunately, God has plenty
for the rest of us to do right where we are.
Hopefully, you have already
found your own special niche in contributing to the Great Commission.
Perhaps you are writing delightful, inspirational fiction that is
changing the lives of your readers. Then again, you may be a pastor, an
elder, or a Sunday school teacher. There are many ways to contribute to
the furthering of the gospel.
As a young man I struggled with
finding my place in His plan. I had so many desires for what I hoped to
accomplish, and far more questions than answers. Mostly, I wanted to
imitate the leaders God had used to shape my young life; but God had
something else in mind. In fact, it would be accurate to say that most
of my plans were contrary to the ones He had for me. Typically, God
would do a work in my life, or open some door, and I would rush ahead
of Him and fill in all the details. In the end, all I had to show for
my efforts were heartaches and wasted time. More often than not, I spun
my wheels putting ministry needs above everything else, including time
spent with God.
In the mid-seventies, I
participated in a summer-of-service with Youth with a Mission. Hundreds
of young people gathered together in Holland for a couple of weeks of
intense training, followed by an opportunity for witnessing in
Amsterdam. From there we went on to Brussels, Belgium, for a Billy
Graham crusade called Eurofest ’75. Hundreds came forward to accept
Christ every day. It was wonderful to be a part of it. Next we traveled
to England, where we participated in more street witnessing.
Our final destination was
Edinburgh, Scotland, where we split into teams and stayed in homes and
church basements across the city. There was an art festival near the
Castle Mount, which drew thousands of tourists from all over Europe.
Each day we would go out to the streets and tell people about the
Christ and His love for them. Many came to the Lord that summer, but I
suspect the lives that were changed the most were our own. It was a
One evening in Scotland, several
of us gathered for a time of fellowship. Our discussion turned to the
topic of what we felt
called of God to do with our
lives. One young man
from England stood and shared what he
thought the Lord had called him
to do. “I am going to do mass evangelism,” he said. Then he explained
how our time on earth was too short, and only mass evangelism could get
the work done in time. Suddenly, my future ministry goals and my areas
of gifting seemed dismally insignificant.
I do not know if that young
man’s plans for mass evangelism turned out as he planned it, but I know
my own life certainly followed more twists and turns than I ever could
have imagined. Early on, I seemed to hit dead ends, or even fall flat
on my face, far more than I succeeded; but in that too, God used my
errors for my benefit. Somehow it took me until my thirties to discover
that God is far more concerned with who we are on the inside than what
we accomplish on the outside.
Discovering my own gifts and
abilities resulted more from years of overcoming personal failures and
struggles than ever came about from attending classes or training
seminars. The same is true of my writing. The deeper God took me in my
own personal healing, the greater impact my writing had in my ministry.
For the first time in my life, ministry leaders began reporting back to
me that with the curriculum I had written, they were receiving the best
results they had ever had.
John 15:5 says, “I am the vine;
you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear
much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (NIV). No other verse in
all the Bible has ever had as great of an impact on my life as this
one. Jesus Himself has given us the key to true productivity for
reaching this world for the kingdom of God. If we want to bear fruit in
this world, it is vital that our walk with God is vibrant.
Too much of our lives are spent
in chasing the urgent circumstances of life rather than on the things
that are truly important. If like me the greatest desire of your heart
is for God to use the novels you write to change the lives of those who
read them, be careful to give special priority to cultivating a closer
walk with your God. I realize that this flies in the face of secular
wisdom, which says that superior writing alone wins. I would argue that
if your goal is to see lives truly changed, then you need God as your
How are things between you and
the Master Artist? With all the writing, editing, critiquing, writers’
meetings, and the various social groups for writers that you frequent,
are you still finding time for the true Master Artist who created you?
Until next month, may God richly
bless you as you write for Him.