In October 2008, for one of my very first blog posts, I provided a framework for thinking about where God is leading your ministry. The big idea behind "Here I Am, Lord ... Now What?" is that God gives us clues about how He wants us to approach ministry within the circumstances He arranges for us:
... God provides us with gifts and talents with which to meet the needs and opportunities He’s placed before us. He makes resources available to us but also places constraints on our service to guide us to where and how He wants us to minister. Think of it like this:
Paying attention to where the circles intersect helps us understand how He is arranging the terms of our service.God arranged a gentle reminder for me about this concept over the last month here in the combat zone. It went something like this:
Week 1: Jailer arrives in Afghanistan, attends chapel on Sunday, introduces himself to the chaplain, and expresses interest in ministry opportunities. Jailer floats a couple of ideas that have worked well in the past. The chaplain effectively pats Jailer on the head and says "isn't that nice". Outlook: discouraged.It's important to know that I planned approximately none of this. My job was to come praying and expecting to serve; to be aware of the gifts and talents God gave me; and to be ready to walk through the doors God opened.
Week 2: Jailer attends a different chapel service. Chaplain Ted asks Jailer to teach his Wednesday Bible study. This appears to fall near the middle of Jailer's framework (above): God has matched the gift with the need and the resources. Outlook: full speed ahead.
Week 3: Bible study #1. Jailer begins teaching RC Sproul's "Dust to Glory" series. 3 people attend: Steve, John and Jailer. Wonderful study/discussion about God's work in creation. Outlook: optimistic.
Week 4: Bible study #2. 5 people attend: Steve, Randy, Kyle, Chaplain Ted & Jailer. Chaplain Ted has to leave after 10 minutes. John doesn't return. Randy appears to have found us by mistake. We discuss the Fall of Man. Only Steve appears fully willing & able to come next week. Outlook: uncertain.
Week 5: Bible study #3. Steve and Jailer appear to have been abandoned, but then God brings 4 unexpected guests: Rod, Will, Tim and Ramon. They are Security Forces troops who are usually out on patrol during Wednesday Bible study. We share a terrific study on the faith of Abraham and the eternal perspective. Steve and I agree to move future Bible studies to Tuesdays so that they can keep coming. Outlook: encouraged!
Week 6: Bible study #4 (yesterday). God assembles 10 as our 4 Security Forces troops bring 4 friends. Superb discussion of Joseph and God's Sovereign purpose through trials. Outlook: amazed.
In short, my job was (and is) to get with God's program!