I remember the words of one pastor from big church had told me: “I do not understand the way you live here, you need to move to the metropolis with good salaries and warm climate and big opportunities for your kids ‘education. Our church is rich, and we will help you to get settled.” That day I did not find the proper answer for that pastor and just repelled his offer with gentle words. However, sometimes I ask this question to myself: “What I am really doing here?”
Right now I am sitting near the window and see the dark clouds in the sky and rain, making puddles and mud everywhere. From the man’s point of view, we have no perspective here. There are no advantages to live in our town from a geographical or economic point of view. The climate is severe, and we can`t provide a good education for our children, and medical care leaves much to be desired. So we live while our Lord gives us strength and power. If we get sick we become like the lady who had come to touch Jesus, had wasted all her property willing to be healed, but it has become just worse. However, it is just the man`s point of view. We should look at the circumstances in a completely different way. For example, like the apostle, Paul looked at them. So I find the words of him he had told the elders of the Ephesian church in Miletus the most precious:
“And now, behold, bound in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there; except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. However, I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts.20:22-24).
Paul came to serve not because of his selfish desires as it may happen to us, but because of the appeal of the Holy Spirit. It was the sovereign calling of the Holy Spirit, and Paul had no power and no desire to resist. The bonds and afflictions awaited him, but Paul did not stop. From the man`s point of view, someone would say: “Paul, you have no perspective.” Moreover, Paul did not think about these perspectives on the earth. Apostle Paul had the explicit purpose of fulfilling the will of His Lord Jesus Christ: “to preach the gospel of the grace of God.”
While looking at the window, I understand that just the will of God and His grace stopped me from leaving our town. It is not the best place on earth. However, again and again, I cry out to Lord to help us to conquer this town with the gospel and to glorify Himself in the salvation of many people here. Also, I feel content in my heart because I am busy with the most relevant job, and the Lord will provide. One of my friends left our town with such words: “I have a little time left to live, so I would like to live a decent life.” Right now, that person has a good salary and a fancy car, and he got everything he was looking for. However, my goal is different. Probably I will not live for long. However, I would like to spend my life here in the small town which you will not even find on the map.
Pastor John MacArthur, in his book Shepherdology wrote the following:
Some people go into the ministry and bailout because they were not called there in the first place. But sometimes people who are called into the ministry bailout, and that is a defection from where God intends them to be.
And then he continued:
There are many people in ministry who serve for a while but quickly fade away. They are like shooting stars or short candles. But I am in awe of those who are faithful to minister the Word of God right out to the end of their lives. I call them spiritual marathon ministers. They may have a small congregation, they may be unknown, but they remain faithful and fulfill their calling. In a spiritual sense, they die with their boots on.
Some people may say: “You may preach the Gospel in big cities because there are lots of sinners everywhere.” And I would answer: “Yes, you are right; but who would preach the Gospel in small towns if everyone had moved to big cities to get more comfortable there.” Unfortunately, the vast majority of Christians seek comfort life on the earth and do not dream about the burning in ministry for the glory of Christ. They are not ready to dedicate their lives to the ministry in the place neglected by everyone.
While reading many biographies of Christian missionaries, I had made a great discovery. All the missionaries sacrificed something and had left better places for serving in worse areas. For example, I mean David Brainerd, Judson family, Hudson Taylor, John Paton and so on. Probably some missionaries were moving from a worse place into a better one, but I had not read about them. Maybe there are no books about such missionaries.
Right now, I would answer the pastor`s invitation in a different way. I am not interested in earthly perspectives. I want to be among the people who are ready to answer the calling of the prophet: “Here I am, send me.” I want to stay and serve faithfully, where my Lord had put me to serve until I am sure I fulfilled His will.
Our hymnal has a great song where the first verse is the following:
You are in the place where Lord put you,
Where He commanded you to serve.
And only there He will be the shield and stick for you,
Only there you may bear the fruit, fulfilling His will.
If He wants to send you some grace
Then He will not search for you everywhere.
He would look at the place where you had to stay,
Where He commanded you to be.
Please, pray for the salvation of sinners in our small town.
Your brother in Christ,