“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us” (New International Version 1984, Romans 8:38-31)?
Is God sovereign?
It is a temptation to find our identity in the ministry that we do. The challenge is to minister with God and not for God.
Much of my lifetime of ministry revolved around preaching every Sunday. That declined during the last ten years of my ministry until it stopped completely in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic. Talking to pastors over the years I know that is a struggle for pastors when they retire. Some seem to handle it gracefully; others seem to struggle.
The loss of preaching regularly has been a challenge to me. Now, the loss of visiting our chaplains and their jail sites has been added to the challenge. I find myself wrestling with this question of God’s sovereignty. It is usually not wrapped in that package, but in the package of my self worth and identity. Yet these lead back to the foundational truth of God’s sovereignty.
Who are we as Christians if we cannot do what we feel that God has called us to do? Are we still considered obedient to the Lord? Are we still loved by God? I know the answers that you and I give. Yes! Of course, we are still obedient and loved! But is that what we live out each day as we wrestle with what life throws at us.
As I hear from our OJPM family of chaplains, volunteers, supporters and friends each is wrestling with this to some degree each week. Your pastor and church are wrestling with this each week. How do we not do what we feel the Lord has called us to do?
During a bubonic Great Plague of 1665-66, Sir Isaac Newton had to leave his schooling at Cambridge and shelter in place at home. We do not know all of his thoughts and struggles but he used the time wisely. During this time of “social distancing” he developed many of his early theories and his work on motion and gravity.
If God wanted and expected you to be obedient to Him when you could go into the jail, He also wants you to be obedient to Him now. Yet, we are severely limited in going into the jails now. So, what is it that God wants you to do right now?
Three thoughts. One, trust Him. Two, be still and wait on Him. Three, look for a new way to minister/share the gospel. That is what I am doing because God is still in control!
Unleashing the captives,