Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you. (Joshua 1:9, NIV)
One of the responsibilities I’ve carried in my local church is choir chaplain. For seven years, week in and week out, my responsibility was to give five-minute devotionals to close our Wednesday evening rehearsals. It was a wonderful opportunity. The devotional could be on any subject, and the five-minute length was perfect: long enough to express a complete thought, yet short enough not to need hours of research.
Most of us have that kind of long-term ministry in one form or another. Such ministries can be great opportunities, but they can also seem heavy obligations at times.
Therefore I offer this testimony of a few things God taught me through that weekly devotional ministry.
God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8, NIV)
God always gave me something to say. I never had to throw together just anything to fill a slot. A few times I panicked on Tuesday night and forced something together, but He always preempted it and gave me something much better before Wednesday night.
Yes, I studied and did all I needed to do. I prayed and prepared and looked to Him. But He consistently gave me ideas and leadership as to what I should say.
God is incredibly faithful. When He gives us a job to do, He never abandons us to our own devices. He always gives us everything we need.
God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:8, NASB)
It’s easy for any of us who “minister” to get caught up in ourselves and our ministry, rather than in the people we serve. When I approached the devotional time nervous about what I was going to say and worried about how it would go, I tended to get uptight and struggle. But when I rested in the Lord and concentrated on the people to whom I was ministering, it worked more naturally.
In fact, I learned to spend my last few moments praying for the people in the choir, instead of reviewing my notes. It focused my heart and opened me to God working through me.
Preparation is essential, but it is never a substitute for relaxing and letting the Spirit accomplish His will through us. And He will, every time, if we let Him. We won’t always finish the job confident that we were great and everything went smoothly. But God plants His seed through us. It is good seed, and He will make it grow.
The longer I serve my Father, the more joyful it becomes. I serve in His presence, with His arms wrapped around me, personally bringing me the guidance and strength I need for each task. It’s exciting to realize I’m caught up in His work. Right now He is creating a world of love and beauty that will last forever. When we live in Him, we are a part of it. Praise to His wonderful name!