"Serving Because He Asks"

 
33 Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. "Get away from me, Satan!" He said. "You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God's."
34 Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.
35 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. 36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my message in these adulterous and sinful days, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." Mark 8:33-38 (NLT)
 
For several years, a missionary couple would visit our church. The wife, Helen, was from Russia. On each and every visit, Helen would tell how that when she was a girl, a gospel tract, given out by a missionary opened the door to her coming to an understanding of the saving grace that Christ offers. Because of that tract, Helen opened her heart to the Lord and had the amazing opportunity of leading her entire Russian family and many friends to Jesus Christ. Helen grew up and became a missionary herself and through the years, has been able to lead countless numbers of people across the world to that same saving faith in Christ. It all started with one missionary who followed God's call on her life and was obedient to that call by handing out some simple papers that explained God's love and saving grace. That missionary probably never knew the outcome of that day passing out tracts-but one day, in heaven, she will meet the countless numbers of people who are there because of that simple act of obedience.
 
Have you ever been to a concert or sporting event where someone is passing out gospel tracts? I was handed one after a race event once. I watched those faithful servants handing out tracts and almost as soon as the paper exchanged hands, the recipients were dropping them to the ground. I remember thinking how discouraging it had to be for those people, who at some point, had to wonder if it was worth it...if they were making any kind of a difference.
 
God calls us to serve Him sometimes at a level of obedience that is purely faith-based. Meaning, often we don't understand why and most times, we won't ever see results of that service this side of heaven. And, more often than not, no one else notices either - There are no pats on the back, no words of encouragement to keep going, and no applause. This level of obedience is faith in action. It's doing what God calls us to do because He called us to do it - pure and simple. I love the way Jesus replies to Simon Peter at the end of verse 33, "...you are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God's."  Take a look what the Bible also says in Isaiah 55:8-9:
 
"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the Lord.
And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways 
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."
 
We don't understand God's ways because we can't. His ways are so beyond what our human minds can reason out. Our job isn't to reason or even understand His ways or why He's asking something of us. Our job is to obey what He's called us to do - in faith.
 
When we cross the line of faith and accept God's gift of salvation, His call is on our life.  Look at Ephesians 2:10:
 
"For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
 
He saves us to serve Him and to bring glory to Him. His call on our life is the "good things He planned for us." Sometimes we're not sure what to do or how to serve and we can help you with that. We'd be glad to help you find your strengths and gifts and how to plug them into the Body of Christ.
 
As a teenager, I remember my dad telling this story in one of his messages. That story touched my life and it has stayed with me all these years:
 
"After forty years of faithful service to the Lord as a missionary to Africa, Henry Morrison and his wife were returning to New York. As the ship neared the dock, Henry said to his wife, "Look at that crowd. They haven't forgotten about us." However, unknown to Henry, the ship also carried President Teddy Roosevelt, returning from a big game hunting trip in Africa. Roosevelt stepped from the boat with great fanfare, as people were cheering, flags were waving, bands were playing, and reporters were waiting for his comments. Henry and his wife slowly walked away unnoticed. They hailed a cab, which took them to the one bedroom apartment which had been provided by the mission board.
 
Over the next few weeks, Henry tried, but failed to put the incident behind him. He was sinking deeper into depression when one evening, he said to his wife, "This is all wrong. This man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody throws a big party. We give our lives in faithful service to God for all these many years, but no one seems to care."
 
His wife cautioned him that he should not feel this way. Henry replied, "I know, but I just can't help it. It just isn't right."
 
His wife then said, "Henry, you know God doesn't mind if we honestly question Him. You need to tell this to the Lord and get this settled now. You'll be useless in His ministry until you do."
 
Henry Morrison then went to his bedroom, got down on his knees and began pouring out his heart to the Lord. "Lord, you know our situation and what's troubling me. We gladly served you faithfully for years without complaining. But now God, I just can't get this incident out of my mind..."
 
After about ten minutes of fervent prayer, Henry returned to the living room with a peaceful look on his face. His wife said, "It looks like you've resolved the matter. What happened?"
 
Henry replied, "The Lord settled it for me. I told Him how bitter I was that the President received this tremendous homecoming, but no one even met us as we returned home. When I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put His hand on my shoulder and simply said, 'But Henry, you are not home yet.'"
 
I have to believe that when Henry Morrison finally reached the shores of Heaven, the celebration dwarfed the welcome received by Teddy Roosevelt on the docks. I can just imagine thousands upon thousands of Africans, who he had reached for Christ, standing at the Gates of Heaven, applauding and welcoming Henry home.
 
Keep serving, Faithful Servant! Even if no one notices. Even if you don't think you're making a difference. For great is your reward in Heaven and how great it will be to hear your Heavenly Father say to you, "Well Done."