For about a year and a half I have been involved in a home missions type church in addition to my regular church. During this time I have been teaching Sunday School to the children that go to the home church. For much of this time, I was spending two and sometimes three days a week with them for several hours at a time so I came to know them much better than the children of my regular church. In this time I have seen these kids grow a tremendous amount. They have grown physically, emotionally and spiritually.
When I first started helping out, most of them had no idea what words like “pray” or “Lord” meant. It was a totally foreign concept to them. Now, these same children join in prayer and regularly report different ways that the Lord has blessed them throughout the preceding week. It has been a lot of hard work, but it has been incredibly rewarding to watch them grow.
My work in this home church will be coming to an end in about six weeks. It has been a tremendous blessing to have been a part of this and yet I also know that my part in this ministry is over. I am thankful that God has made His will clear to me and that I will be able to leave on a positive note with many wonderful memories and learning experiences to take with me.
I am also a little sad. I am going to miss all these beautiful children. I’ve come to think of them as “my” kiddos. I am going to miss watching them grow up and grow in Him. When the horrible tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary broke the news, it was these kids who came to my mind first. It was only later that I thought of the children from my regular church. The ones I thought of immediately were the kids from the home church. They were the ones I wanted to see and wrap my arms around.
One thing I have come to realize is that most ministry is temporary. God has a certain will for a certain time. I often wonder how many times we prevent ourselves, and our churches, from moving on to the next thing that God is calling us to do because we are unwilling to walk away from what He intended for only a temporary assignment. I have seen people hang on to things for far too long because letting go is too difficult. Even when a ministry is clearly no longer working or when doors shut on every side, they continue to hang on because they say, “But God called me to this!” and indeed He may have, but did God call you to it forever? Perhaps not.
There are times when you’ve already accomplished everything that God wanted you to do and a ministry will naturally come to an end. God can’t give you a new assignment until you are willing to surrender the previous one. Consider the ministry of John the Baptist. For a time he was the one gathering disciples and teaching them about the remission of sins through the cleansing waters of baptism. But John the Baptist understood that his assignment was temporary. He said, “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:7-8). He knew that there was one coming after him. He also knew that his job was to preach repentance (Matthew 3:1-2) and to baptize people with water, but that someone else would come along who would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
Even Jesus Himself, had a temporary assignment as a man on this earth. His public ministry only lasted three years. What God is calling you to, may be a legitimate calling, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a permanent calling.
When Phillip was preaching in the book of Acts we see something very interesting happen. He is preaching in Samaria to multitudes of people (Acts 8). People are giving their lives to God. Both men and women are getting baptized. It’s a revival and God is clearly in it. Phillip has been called for such a time as this! But guess what happens? God sends an angel and tells Phillip to go to a desert road! He’s in the villages preaching to multitudes and God sends him to a lonely desert road?! His assignment to the multitudes had come to an end because God had a new assignment for him. I can imagine Phillip on this deserted road not seeing a soul in sight and wondering whether he might have heard God wrong. Perhaps he misunderstood the angel. But Phillip was precisely where God wanted him to be. There was a lone Ethiopian eunuch on the road and God had ordained for Phillip to meet him there so that he could hear the gospel. God doesn’t give Phillip the assignment of mentoring and discipling the Ethiopian eunuch either. No, after a quick bible study and baptism, Phillip is whisked away to another assignment.
So if God gives you an assignment that seems smaller than your last one or if He gives you one that seems smaller than what you think you should be doing, you should remember that our Sovereign Lord knows and sees all. He makes no mistakes. He is the assignment giver and He is the one that decides what assignment you should be on and for how long. When a ministry comes to an end, don’t lament the end of that ministry, rejoice that you were blessed to be a part of it. Don’t cling to an assignment that has ended because in doing so you will miss the next assignment that God has for you. In order to accomplish His will you need to move on to the next thing He has ordained for you. No matter where or when you are sent, above all remember that it isn’t about you, it’s about bringing Him glory!
The Bible says, “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). We are on temporary assignment and we need to keep our focus on the eternal. Always seeking after Him, always seeking to be in His will.