I have had an amazing two weeks. In fact, the last several weeks have been blessed. By the time you read this, many of you will have heard bits and pieces of what I am going to share in this article, so please forgive me for being repetitive. God has been moving in our worship services at Southside. We have had new members to join and other decisions made. There has been an excitement in the air that is unexplainable in human standards. That is why I asked our worshippers on Sunday if they could feel the power of the Spirit moving in our church. It was a tangible experience. But a better question is, “Are you willing to allow Him to move through you?” I hope so because that is the only way we can be the church God intends us to be, and that is true whether you are at Southside or at another church.
I have taken a few days off – from blogging and from my church – in order to rest and reflect a bit on what God has been doing. I will be honest, I did this in Pensacola, Florida where I got to spend time with almost all of my family. We missed you, Rob. But sometimes you need to focus on something else for a while to allow your thoughts to crystallize and become clear even to you. That’s what I did.
So I especially want to say thank you to my church for the events of the last two weeks. Thank you for sending me to Monroe, Louisiana on a Disaster Relief callout. I use the word “sending” purposefully. Every time I go out to do ministry, I go as a representative sent by this church to do ministry in Jesus’ name. The work was hard, but the blessings were great. To see peace replace fear and sorrow in eyes that have seen their homes and treasured possessions in ruins due to the floodwaters makes it all worthwhile. To share with pastors and let them know that they are not in this by themselves only to see Mark Wakefield crushed in a big bear hug by a grateful pastor is just icing on the cake, and you know how much I like icing. Even to spend hours travelling back and forth to hardware stores to get the shower trailer going so that our mud-out teams could take a hot shower at the end of the day – that is ministry. I can’t recall Jesus ever saying anything about shower trailers, but I think the principle is there. To know that our ministry to these people made a difference in at least a few lives brings joy that you can only know when you are going into the harvest as Jesus commanded.
And the fields are white, white, WHITE unto harvest. With potentially 265 million lost people in North America according to the statistics of the North American Mission Board, it is impossible to not see the need. And out of that multitude, is it not inevitable that we have daily contact with many of these hurting, hungry, hopeless people? We don’t even have to go to Monroe, Louisiana or Las Vegas, Nevada or Washington, D.C. to find them. They are all around us, and while they may not have suffered the tragedy of a great flood, many are suffering. You don’t have to look very hard to see it on their faces: the fear, the pain, the sorrow, the uncertainty. If you don’t believe me, talk to your neighbors. Visit with a coworker. Speak with the person at the checkout counter. The needs are everywhere, and if you believe that God is a loving God, which I do, and you believe that it is God’s will that none should perish but that all should come to repentance, which I do, and if you believe that Jesus died once for all time and all people, which I do, it is not very much of a stretch to believe that the Holy Spirit is working on hearts of people all around us and all that is missing is for you and me to share the gospel – to plant, water, or possibly harvest.
My son-in-law has a loquat tree in his backyard in Pensacola, Florida. It is full of fruit. In fact, it is so full that many of the loquats are becoming overripe and falling to the ground. I can’t tell you how many times he has invited friends, neighbors, and total strangers to come pick as much of this sweet fruit as they want, and very few respond. So, much of it falls to the ground to be eaten by birds and ants or to be stepped on by people who never even see the fruit. As I looked at this tree on Monday and partook of the fruit, I saw the frightening similarity to the harvest of which Jesus was speaking, and I wondered how many times had I stepped on or over the hungry, hurting, and hopeless people that desperately need Jesus. Oh, Father, please give me eyes to see and a heart that loves too much for that to happen ever again.