Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Divine Appointments (Lessons From Two Jim's)

"Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men..." (2 Corinthians 5:11)

"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us, we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Hurts in ministry have a way of turning your focus from being outward to being inward. Suddenly, every moment of every day is focused on "me" and what is happening to "me" and how "I" am being treated and how it is making "me" feel and how it is impacting "my" life.

When I become fully focused on "me" I lose sight of my main calling which is to "go into all the world and make disciples." Paul was going through horrible affliction in ministry, yet he remained focused outward on those who needed Christ.

Two men, each named Jim, helped me to see how in my own life I had allowed my hurt and pain to change my focus from outward to inward. I was counseling one Jim who had begun to attend our church. He had never really thought much of 'church' but God had recently led him to our local church and Jim was realizing that the Bible really did apply to his life. He struggled with how forgiveness of sin and eternal life could be a free gift. He felt it only made sense that he needed to earn something so valuable. These meetings with Jim were like an oasis in a desert for me during a very difficult time in ministry. He was eagerly embracing the truth of the Gospel and ultimately Jim crossed that line of faith and trusted the death and resurrection of Jesus alone for his forgiveness and salvation.

The other Jim I met while attending a Leadership Development Training out west. I was the only pastor there as this was a corporate leadership training. To spend an entire week with a dozen secular leaders from all over the country brought quite many opportunities but, sad to say, things had become so bad by the way of ministry challenges back home that I was struggling to focus on anything but "me." God brought me back to the proper focus through what I like to call a "Divine Appointment."

I was taking a walk back at the hotel when I passed Jim, who was also attending this training. He was on the phone, and being in the inward frame of mind that I was, I fully intended to pass right by him. However, Jim noticed me and motioned for me to stop while he finished his phone conversation. He asked if I wanted to go grab a bite to eat. Honestly, I didn't want to but I could sense that this was being orchestrated by the Holy Spirit.

It didn't take long at dinner for Jim to share his spiritual journey with me even though we had just met that morning. What a joy it was to share with Jim steps he could take to continue moving forward toward a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Even in your greatest pain, if you will take your eyes of of "me" you will find Divine Appointments that God has arranged for you, His ambassador on earth. After all, there are many Jim's right around you!

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