Let's be honest. Ministry is often inconvenient. How often have we been excited to begin a new ministry (whether we are founding it or joining it), only to find ourselves dragging months or years later with little of the original enthusiasm left. We see little fruit and we wonder, What is the point? We are tempted to quit, thinking our time could be better used elsewhere.
I was reading in Jonah this morning and that is the very thought process that Jonah seemed to have had when he first ran away from the ministry God assigned to him. He just "knew" he would make the long journey, make a fool of himself walking and shouting warnings around the city of Nineveh - for nothing! No smoke, no fire, no hailing brimstone. Just God's patience and mercy. Again.
Week in and week out, my children, other teens and I trek into the city. We are the minority out there - in color and in lifestyle. We walk in with our skirts (girls) and short haircuts (boys), holding our Bibles, carrying song signs and, in general, looking odd. We sing loudly. We play hard. We sit and listen to the children try to say verses with words they can barely read or pronounce. Sometimes months go by without any of them getting saved. For weeks we can have children in Kids Club who do nothing but cause disruption and bring down morale.
We sometimes begin to wonder what we are doing. Should we keep going? We all have school, jobs, families....so many other things that would be, seemingly, more productive. We use up gas and money. We put more miles on our already well-used vehicles. We get rained on and snowed on. We are just plain tired. Why bother?
Then it happens. A ten year old boy gets saved. A twelve year old girl sits with her leader longer than required just to ask more questions about this man Jesus. An 8 year old asks for a Bible and his face lights up when his leader writes his name in it. THIS is what it's all about.
This is why we drive.
This is why we put one foot in front of the other when we feel like we can barely go on.
This is why we smile one more smile.
This is why we sing the kiddie songs.
This is why we try to work through the disruptions and get to the hardening hearts of the pre-teens.
God is patient. God is merciful. Yet, we, so often want to see things happen now, just like Jonah. We tend to get bent out of shape when our eyes see nothing but the mundane routine. Our faithfulness is challenged. But, when we wait, when we stay faithful, we see the fruit of what God has been doing all along.
Today, we are to leave for the city in one hour. It's been a long day of school. It's cloudy out and just a nice day to stay in and cozy up with a Bible study and cup of cider. I'm tired. My son's face is swollen from a bee sting. But there's a soul waiting for us in the body of a child. A soul that God is working on...though we may not see it. All we need to do is obey our patient Lord and go.
And so, we will.