There is something alluring about sharing the Gospel with the heathen in Africa (or Europe or South America, etc.), smuggling Bibles, working in closed countries, boldly standing in courtrooms, translating God's Word, preaching to thousands, seeing souls changed by hundreds.
But what about washing dishes, praying, loving our family, serving our church, ministering where we cannot be seen? Even as I write this list, I feel my heart deflating a little. Washing dishes? What is that compared to handing a Bible to a hungry soul? Staying with my family? What about being a "mom" to some orphans out there in a remote orphanage?
We say, "Lord, I'll follow You wherever You lead," but do we truly mean it?
Africa - "Yes, Lord, I'll go there."
Stay home - "Um, I think You got things wrong here. That's not ministry."
China - "Ah! Yes, Lord, I'll go there."
Pray - "Pray? Really. That's not doing something for Christ's kingdom!"
And He said to them all, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it:
but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
"Oh yes, Lord, I'll do that ... but the cross must look like ministry in my eyes. If I am to lose my life, it must be burying myself in some foreign country, not in piles of laundry."
How do we view "taking up our cross?" Does it really mean following Christ -- or following our preconceived ideas of "what this cross looks like?"
If the cross leads somewhere exciting ... somewhere "going" ... somewhere "doing" ... yes, we're willing to go, to follow. But what if that path leads somewhere that looks very un-ministry? Are we submitted to God's guidance -- or the guidance of our ideals?
We can spiritualize the paths we want to take. Desiring to be a missionary, pastor, orphanage worker, or participating in some other visible ministry is not bad -- in fact, they are all Scriptural. But just because we want to do it does not mean we're following God, taking up our cross, and denying selves. For some people, staying home and washing dishes takes more self-denial than the excitement of going out of country for ministry. Following God will not always look like some grand adventure, because God doesn't measure our service by actions but by obedience and submission.
I am not trying to be anti-missions/ministry here. I am all about mission-work. I love the missionaries and ministries I know and fully support them, whether they be home or abroad. Jesus said to pray for more harvest workers, He said to "go ye therefore." But He also says simply, "Follow Me."
If any man serve me, let him follow Me;
and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve Me,
him will My Father honour.
I don't notice any specific ministries or mission-points mentioned in this verse. For some, "Follow Me" will mean "Go to the Philippines" or "Go to Iraq." For others, "Follow Me" will mean, "Be an orphanage worker" or "Reach out to those unloved and hurting." For yet others, "Follow Me" just might mean, "Stay single and serve with your family" or "Get a job and be a light there."
When Jesus says, "Follow Me," are we willing to give up our ideals of where the path may lead? Are we really willing to go wherever and do whatever?