Don’t wait for God to call you to be a ‘sent one’. Ask the Lord to send you and He will give you a call to go.
Too many of us tell ourselves that since we don’t feel a call to go here or there to share the gospel that God must not want us to go anywhere. We get comfortable with our lives and think we are in God’s will. “My mission field is right here’ is something we frequently tell ourselves. It might be, but do we really know that for sure, and if so, are we doing anything about it?
We must not try to send ourselves anywhere, not even to the next door neighbor. Unless God fills, sends and directs us we will be trying to serve God with the arm of our flesh–our flesh is supposed to be dead (in Christ) and God will not use it. There will be far too many people on judgment day who say ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?” And the Lord will say to them, “I never knew You; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.” A true believer knows how weak and unable they are to do anything for God and when they see Him face to face they will worship Him and praise Him for all that He has done. We cannot do anything apart from Him and anything we do in our flesh will burn up–even if we are saved.
Most likely though, we are not false prophets doing works for our own glory and we understand that we are weak and can’t do anything–so we are quite content when God doesn’t zap us with lightening and send us to Africa. We’re afraid to talk to our neighbor, let alone to someone in a different culture.
The problem with this is that God is calling all of us to go to someone, somewhere. It might be next door or to another city, state, or country, or all of those at different times, but He is calling.
In order to hear the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” we have to be close enough to hear Him. Isaiah sought the Lord with all his heart and the Lord revealed His glory and holiness to Him. When he saw the vision of the Lord he cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim took a burning coal from the altar and touched Isaiah’s lips with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for” (this was because ‘out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks’). Isaiah came to know and see God accurately and saw his own sinfulness and inadequacy and humbled himself before the Lord. The Lord cleansed him and allowed him to remain in His presence. Because of this, Isaiah was able to overhear the Lord’s call for someone to go and he responded, “Here am I! Send me.” God said, “Go” and then gave him a specific message for a specific people (See Isaiah 6).
God calls humble, broken people who abide in His presence to go to hurting, dying people. If you are not sensing God’s heart for lost people then it could indicate you are not abiding in Christ. We all know that the Bible tells us to share the gospel, but that is head knowledge easily ignored in the busyness of daily life. Does the plight of lost people dying and going to hell grip us as it does the Lord? If not, we are not abiding as we should.
God reveals His heart to those who dwell in His presence, and in such a way that we cannot ignore it. He is gracious with us though. His timing is not instant and He works in our lives skillfully to prepare us for what He wants to do through us. Some start abiding and they catch a vision of what God wants to do through them and then they run ahead of God and try to do it on their own. But the Lord gives us glimpses of the vision along the way so we can watch, pray and be sensitive to His leading in our lives as we continue to abide in Him and obey, day by day, step by step.
His school of ministry is perfect, and He doesn’t send us out too soon or too late. The core subjects are: Knowing God, Knowing God, and Knowing God by spending time with Him in prayer and Bible study and meditation and ongoing conversation with Him; Dying to self in every area of life, Dying some more, Dying again; Complete surrender to the Lord’s will; Holiness; God’s Power at work in our weakness; and then whatever practical skills and experience we need for the type of ministry He calls us to. This process is not to be rushed, but it does need to begin. Come to God and ask Him to teach you how to abide in Him (John 14-16 is a good place to start to learn). Set aside time each day to seek Him in the word and through prayer. Obey everything He tells you, (always test everything with Scripture to be sure it is God’s voice you are hearing) even the little things that don’t seem that important. Be willing for God to root out sin and change your life in drastic but glorious ways. Allow Him the freedom to do whatever He wants with your life.
Don’t wait for God to call you. If you are resistant to offering yourself completely to God, ask Him to make you willing. And when He gives you the ability to cry out, “Here am I, send me” then pray it with all your heart. He will answer us and make us so willing that we actually beg Him to send us out. To those who abide in Him He promises, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give it to you” John 15:16.
Our friend Ned is faithful to seek the Lord daily and each morning he asks the Lord to give him a soul. As he goes about his day, the Lord will direct him to talk with certain people about the Lord. He only shares with those God tells him to share. Sometimes it is only a quick word and at other times he is able to lead people to Christ. He also goes into the jail where he shares the gospel and disciples new believers. He tells us of arguments he has with the Lord about whether this person or that one will receive what He has to say, but the Lord always wins and he obeys.
His testimony has always challenged me. I’ve wanted to be like him for years but I have been afraid to pray for God to give me a soul. But as I’ve been seeking Him lately, He has been changing my heart and now I readily pray for opportunities to share the hope that I have in Jesus. I am firmly convinced of my inability, but He is moving me beyond that to see His ability to work through me. He has also been burdening my heart more and more for those who don’t know Jesus. He is bringing our family to the place of, “Lord, we don’t know what You will require of us but we belong to You and we want You to use us however You want to, whether that is here or somewhere else.”
When I allow myself to be distracted from seeking the Lord and being in His presence I forget about the lost ones and I lose sight of the Lord’s call to die to myself. I start gripping my fingers around the things I want to do or have. But as soon as I focus on the Lord again He reminds me of His call to die. It is not an easy road, but it is the only one He offers. The closer we get to Him the more clearly we hear Him say, “Come and die (to self) that you may live.”
But Jesus promises, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first” Mark 10:29-31.
“And He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” Luke 10:2.
We can only pray earnestly for something that grips us, and if getting the gospel to those who are lost and dying grips us we will readily offer ourselves up as laborers–we should only pray for God to do through others that which we are willing to do as well.
Lillias Trotter was a missionary in Algeria for about 40 years and she wrote this about her call to Algeria:
I was busy in London working [she was doing mission work in London]; all was prospering, with God’s blessing, and I had no thought but to spend my life there. The whole missionary subject seemed to me rather dull, and was altogether beyond my horizon. But I had two friends with whom I was thrown a good deal just then, and they had both of them taken to heart the outer darkness [areas of the world unreached by the gospel]. I do not remember that they said anything to me personally about it, but one felt it right through them; they were all aglow, and after a bit, though I took no more personal interest in the matter than before, I began to feel they had a fellowship with Jesus that I knew nothing about. I did love Him, and I did not like to be out in the cold over it, so I began to pray: ‘Lord, give me the fellowship with Thee about the unreached peoples that Thou has given to those two.’
It was not many weeks before it began to come–a strange yearning love over those who were ‘in the land of the shadow of death,’ a feeling that Jesus could speak to me about it, and that I could speak to Him; that a great barrier between me and Him had been broken down, and swept away. I had no thought of leaving England then, no thought even at first to stir others at home, but straight as a line God made my way out into the darkness, before eighteen months were over.
Later Lillias wrote of her two friends:
Through eternity I shall thank God for the silent flame in the hearts of those two friends and what they did for me. Neither of them has ever had their path opened into foreign work, but the light of the Day that is coming will show what He has let them do in kindling others.
We cannot assume what the Lord will do when we offer ourselves willingly to Him. It may be the exact opposite of our initial thoughts about it. The point is to be willing to go anywhere with Him. Our primary calling is to a relationship with Him and He will lead us where He wants us to go if we stay close to Him.