The day had arrived, the day I'd been looking forward to. I was sure that I would hear and receive a prophetic word that would confirm God had GREAT things in store for me! This senior week of prayer at Elim Bible Institute would be the match to ignite my bright ministerial future.
"A long and narrow road..."
Wait, what? Start over! How is that exciting? Promising? Joyful?
At the beginning of his ministry, Jeremiah was assured by God that "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5) Then God "put out his hand and touched" Jeremiah's mouth and said, "I have put my words in your mouth." (1:9) A glorious beginning!
But over time Jeremiah became discouraged. Despondent, he came to curse the day he was born (Jeremiah 20). Consecrated before birth? For this?!
He wasn't seeing results, fruit, success. No one was listening, believing, repenting.
Jeremiah's call was simple: Go where you're sent. Describe what you see. Speak what you hear. That's it. Jeremiah was called to speak God's words, not produce God's results. It was God who said, "I am watching over MY word to perform it" (1:12, emphasis mine). It wasn't Jeremiah that was watching over God's word to perform it.
Paul reminds us that in ministry it is God who gives the growth and that the one who waters and the one who plants are "nothing" (1 Corinthians 3:7). This is discouraging news to those of us who can't imagine going unnoticed, being unknown, or proving unsuccessful. But Paul is not despising the workers, disparaging hard work, or demonizing fame or ambition.
Paul is zealous that we understand: our task apart from God's activity is nothing; but any task as part of God's activity is strategic for eternal purposes.
If God comes to you and says, "I'm calling you into ministry, but I'm calling you to speak and to do things that will produce their fruit centuries from now. You will never see it or hear it during your lifetime, but in eternity you will be astounded. Are you willing to give your life to me so that I can accomplish this?" Does your heart sink with disappointment? Or does it rise with delight?
In the eternal measuring and weighing of ministry, it is only what God produces that will count for anything. Our hope, then, is not in the visible and our trust is not in the instant. Our hope and trust are in God and what He does and says to accomplish the eternal (Isaiah 55:11).
On the narrow road of ministry, don’t grow impatient on the way.
Be "a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls" (Jeremiah 1:18) in your resolve to love God, not results; to serve God, not results; to seek God, not results; to rest in God, not in results; to rejoice in God, not in results. Be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
A broad place is waiting for you at the end of the road.
Jonathan Evans was raised as the son of missionaries in the country of Mexico. After graduating from Elim Bible Institute (Lima, NY), he moved to Oswego in 2000. He has been serving Elim Grace Church since 2000. He is married to Alissa-jae and is the father of four children. He loves photography, writing and music. He is ordained and has ministry credentials through Elim Fellowship.