Chapter 1: the quest for fulfillment

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Bringing it Together

If you have abandoned control of your life, casting it upon Christ, you are being divinely groomed for missions of eternal significance as Almighty God’s co-worker. The specifics may be hazy, but as you look to God, a future, fulfilling ministry is guaranteed.

‘Yea, and soya milk comes from Chinese cows,’ I almost hear you say. My words are like gems – hard to swallow. The more you need this book the less believable it will seem. Our thoughts have flowed in the one direction for so long that changing them takes enormous commitment. Let’s review the reasons for making bold statements about your future service.

Your Maker will give you a ministry for eight irrefutable reasons:

¶ His Word declares it.l

¶ It is in his best interest.a

¶ You were created and redeemed for it.b God has staked his Son’s life on your success.

¶ The church needs it.c

¶ The primary function of his Word and his ministers is to endow you for it.d

¶ He has bound himself to granting your heart’s desire.e

¶ He loves you and longs to bless you in every conceivable way.f

¶ He has commanded you to minister.g
So powerful are these reasons that any one of them is sufficient to make ministry certain.

Why Are You Anxious About Ministry?

Consider the vines of the vineyard,

How they grow;

They neither toil nor strive,

Yet, I tell you,

Even man with all his technology

Cannot produce fruit like one of these.

If God so fruits the vine,

Which today is alive

And tomorrow is cast into the fire,

Will he not more surely

Produce fruit in your life,

O you of little faith?

So do not fret, saying:

‘How shall I achieve something worthwhile?’

Or, ‘How shall I leave my mark on this world?’

For after such fulfillment the heathen crave,

And your heavenly Father knows your need of it.
Who among you,

When your son asks if he can help,

Would always spurn his offers?

Or, if he wants to achieve something worthwhile,

Would you let him waste his life,

Rather than help him succeed?

If you then, being evil,

Know how to love your children,

How much more shall your Father in heaven

Give a ministry to those who seek it.

‘Abide in Me . . .

And you shall bear much fruit . . .

And My Father shall be glorified.’h

The Exception

I know what you’re thinking. There must be exceptions. All right, have your way. Create in your mind someone incapable of ministry. Make him unable to read, write or speak.

‘What about sign language?’ you ask. Okay, rule that out too. Just to be sure, we’ll imagine he is blind and suffers severe mental retardation. If you insist, we’ll say he’s had these limitations since birth.

You want to pile on even more disabilities? This is ridiculous. How about making him spastic – so handicapped he can’t even wriggle out of bed by himself? Maybe he could use his hands. We had better make him incapable of even holding a spoon.

By now we have surely blocked every possibility. He can’t read, write, talk, sign or see; unable even to think straight or move properly. We have created in our imagination a hideously handicapped person utterly incapable of ministry, right? Hogwash. I’ve been describing Leslie Lemke, a man so powerfully used of God that you have probably heard of him. Steve Bergelin – who has worked with Bob Hope, Robert Schuller, Paul Harvey and many others – claims to have seen no one touch an audience the way Leslie does.7

After sixteen years with not a glint of the most rudimentary potential for any ministry, Leslie was suddenly empowered to play the piano. Using fingers incapable of the simplest task, he played intricate pieces like a professional. Later, years before he could speak, he began to sing. He need only hear a piece once before he can reproduce it flawlessly, with skillful embellishments. He’s now world-famous and has been instrumental in leading many to the Lord.
Robert Reed’s speech is slurred. He has twisted hands and useless feet. By himself he cannot bathe, eat, brush teeth, comb his hair or put on his underwear.

He is a missionary in Portugal.

Bob Byers, besides being tormented by total blindness and poor hearing, was so paralyzed that not only was he completely immobilized below the neck, his front teeth had to be extracted to force liquefied food past his locked jaw. He could not read, write, see or move. You could fill a chapter detailing fundamental things this man could not do, but you could fill a book with things this founder of Mission to the Blind Overseas achieved for the glory of God.8
Ministry is for everyone. Don’t ever let Satan call you an exception.
A mental asylum inmate grabbed a canvas and painted some flowers. In his saner days he had attempted theological studies and missionary work. He apparently failed at both. Added to this was the torment of repeated failures at romantic love. Now he was attempting to paint. He seemed to like the result. But who could appreciate the product of a twisted mind? Can a tortured soul produce beauty?

In 1987 a canvas changed hands. It fetched $US 53.9 million – a world record for any painting. The previous record belonged to another painting by that same impoverished man. A third work of his changed hands for $US 20.2 million.

Obviously, the artist is now famous. But do not let van Gogh’s present-day fame blind you to the fact that those treasured works of art are by a mental patient who died in obscurity; a luckless madman who suicided after living only half his life.

From humanity’s sludge comes the finest gold.

It would take quite a library to detail the achievements of spiritual giants like Catherine Booth, Frances Havergal, Charlotte Elliott, David Livingstone and Amy Carmichael weighed down by chronic health problems; of Christians like Alexander Cruden and William Cowper afflicted by bouts of insanity; and of the legions like Gladys Aylwarda who with God soared above their intellectual limitations.

Or are you too ordinary? That’s another myth we’ll sink before this book ends.

Every physical and mental barrier to ministry crumbles at the name of Jesus.

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