As my ministry teammates can attest, I was not standing at the front of the line when God was passing out patience. It’s interesting to me to contemplate the way the Bible juxtaposes the need for us to respond to the opportunities God provides us to draw attention to His Son, Jesus, with the way the Christmas story demonstrates God relentlessly executing His plan to redeem the world through millions of people over thousands of years.
Mike Woods from Making Room had asked me yesterday on my Facebook page: “Are you sure you really work for a living, because as I read your blogs I’m wondering, “How does this guy find time to think, pray, and then write about all of this stuff?”
My response: “It’s hard NOT to be passionate about this stuff. It’s hard enough for me to get through life knowing Jesus. I can’t imagine how people who don’t have that relationship do it, much less people who have kids with the issues you and I deal with every day at work. When you look at the opportunity we have to be used by God to have an impact, it sure beats plunking myself down on the couch at night with ESPN and a bag of potato chips.”
Eight years ago tonight, I assumed that our team would have been used by God to save the world by now. Millions of kids and millions of families would be attending churches tonight where they had been introduced to Jesus, grown in faith, developed spiritual friendships and experienced opportunities to use their gifts to serve others. While we’ve seen God at work in remarkable ways over the past eight years, it feels to me like we’re closer to the beginning of the process than we are to the end. Sometimes, that’s a little discouraging.
On the other hand, when I ponder the overarching theme of God’s plan of redemption through the Christmas story and ultimately, Christ’s death and resurrection, I’m struck by the way God used life-changing circumstances of so many of the characters in the story over thousands of years to bring about His purposes.
- Abraham: Leaves his home and journeys across much of the ancient world in response to God’s promise that his descendants would play a key role in God’s plan of redemption.
- Tamar: Disguised herself as a prostitute when Judah chose to abdicate his family responsibilities, became pregnant by Judah and gave birth to a son (Perez) who became part of Jesus’ lineage.
- Ruth: A foreigner, a Moabite woman who cared for her mother-in-law (Naomi) through a time of great famine, and ultimately became the great grandmother of King David.
- David: A man after God’s own heart. Ultimately, David had the faith to pick up the slingshot to slay Goliath and set in process his ascendancy to the throne of Israel, where he received God’s promise that his line would be culminated by the Ultimate King, Jesus, who would rule forever.
None of these folks ever saw the end of the story, first in the manger at Bethlehem and later on the cross at Calvary and at the empty tomb. But they were all critical to the story. I doubt that those of us around for the beginning of Key Ministry will be alive on Earth to see firsthand the end of the story, but we’re still part of the story.
What’s really neat is that the story’s not over until Jesus returns and everyone is invited by God to play a part in the story through His church. Key Ministry is one small part of that story, used by God as a tool to help redeem one neglected piece of His Kingdom. We’re called to respond to God’s invitation with a whole-hearted allegiance and a sense of urgency because our time is limited. God orchestrates the story over centuries with a purpose that transcends time and transcends any person, organization, local church or ministry so that we appreciate His power, look to Him with wonder and worship Him.
Tonight, we’ll stop at Katie Wetherbee’s house for a Christmas party between church services. Those are her kids in the picture, when they were “part of the story” in their church’s Christmas pageant. One of their family’s tradition is cutting a birthday cake for Jesus. It’s pretty neat that our ministry adventure and Jesus share the same birthday. I’ll be celebrating tonight a Savior who not only entered our world so that we could have an everlasting relationship with Him, but invites each of us to be part of His story as He executes His plan of redemption for redeeming a fallen world.
Our ministry team is very blessed to have the opportunity to invite kids with emotional, behavioral, developmental and neurologic conditions and their families to be part of His story. Want to join us?
Special thanks to the six other original members of the Key Ministry team who were willing to sign on to this ministry adventure on December 24, 2002 and established the foundation of the work being done today: Pastor Hu Auburn, Jan Auburn, Julie Busch Jones, Kevin Kelley, Dave McKee and Ed Moore.