I am preparing to attend a two day prayer summit in a few days…actually helping lead it. Go figure. Sometimes when leaders get together, well anytime leaders come together, they want to know, “What is the take away?” Good question for busy men and women to ask themselves and those leading the event for sure. Now, I am not always one asking the good question or knowing the answer to the good question. I tend to think, “Let’s just see what the take away might be.” Yeah…no one will buy that tee shirt. “Let’s Just See!” Those hats and shirts will be shipped overseas somewhere or in my garage for my kids to discard of after I go home to be with Jesus. I am surrounded by other leaders, including my wife, so I don’t always have to be the “take away” explainer. Someone else will do that, thank you very much.
This morning I wrote a devotion that I sent out to our church family and on Facebook. As I began my search for the scripture to work off of I found a very familiar story in the Gospel of John that seemed pretty safe to work from. I quoted these two verses; When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat? He asked this only to test him, for He had in mind what He was going to do.” John 6:5,6 I gave some inspirational words and sent it out. But I could not shake the words and the thoughts racing through my mind. Most of you will recognize this as the beginning of the story of Jesus feeding the multitude. Great story, awesome preaching material. I can see Jesus turning to Philip with a wry smile on His face, “Hey Phil, where is the closest bakery?” Phil swallows his gum and says,”It would take us eight months of offerings to buy enough that everyone could get one bite…one bite!” End of conversation…only I love how John says, “He had in mind what He was gong to do.” Jesus! I am shocked! Now another disciple said, “I grabbed this kids lunch…some fish and bread…does this help?” Whata story!
As I pondered, or it pondered me, I am not sure the order, I could not shake the words, “He had in mind what He was going to do.” Or Andrew offering up someone else's lunch to help out the cause. A friend of mine, a young leader in the city, has this audacious vision, from the Lord, to see 500,000 people come to know the Lord in our region. That is right…500,000. Sooooo you sense the Lord saying 500k. How do you do that? As an older, mature believer in the Lord maybe I should help let him down gently. You know…George…it was probably the pizza you ate. Not sure the Lord would ever have you dream that bi…what am I saying?!?!? 500k? We tend to want to “save” people from a vision that is very large…too large. I have three words for you: Nin-e-veh! Yes, it is one word, Nineveh. 120k came to the Lord through a very reluctant evangelist. I digress. As I read John’s story today I could not shake off the words, “He had in mind what He was going to do.” When Jesus turned to Philip and asked how they could feed the people Philip’s reply really was…it is impossible Jesus…impossible. In Andrew, Jesus had someone who also thought it was impossible but had seen enough with Jesus to make a small contribution to the party.
This is ministry! When He called me to be a pastor and plant a church my first response was “No thank you…that is impossible and improbable!” Eventually I had to come to trust, “He already in mind what He was going to do.” Like Andrew I brought my meager sack lunch, and yes it probably was someone else’s and said, “Here, this is what I have.” The Message translates verse six like this, “He said this to stretch Philip’s faith. He already knew what he was going to do. Jesus was not tricking Philip…He was stretching him. I tend to respond like Philip a lot, you know, being wise in the ways of the church and all. Practical is another word you could use. With Jesus we need to be Andrew…let’s throw in with Him and see what He is doing. Being practical is not always a kingdom word or thought. The call towards Jesus is a call towards mystery as well as ministry. I don’t know how many times I have cried before the Lord,“I do not know what I am doing! Why would you call me?” Now I can see…He already had in mind what He was going to do. We can beg out…or go all in. As a leader who came to the party kind of reluctantly it has always been helpful to know the story behind the story. Yes, He always calls us beyond our gifts and abilities…and He always has in mind what He is going to do. I hear people talk about “their” ministry…I don’t have one of those…I only have His…because…here it comes…He already has in mind what He is going to do!
As we gather at the prayer summit I do wonder what the take away will be. My suspicion is we won’t know much more when we leave than when we walked through those doors. (Don’t tell anyone;) The challenge is will we be overwhelmed at the huge task of taking our region for Jesus? Or will we throw in our fish and chips and join in with what “He already has in mind to do.” I am thinking this is the bottom line of ministry…of leading…finding out what He has in mind…joining Him.