I read a blog post yesterday and I am still thinking about it. It was on the True Woman blog and entitled “When They Don’t Love You Back”. Contrary to what you might think the article did not resonate with me from the adoption/foster care angle. The idea that resonated with me is that we are to obey God in whatever He has asked us to do remembering that the outcome is not in our hands. Here is a partial excerpt from the article:
…He’s been teaching me a deeper lesson about that season of intense ministry—it’s not my job to control the fruit. That’s the job of the Gardener. I am to be faithful to plant, water, nurture, and harvest when God tells me to, but it isn’t my job to control the outcome of my efforts for the Kingdom.
I don’t know about you, but that is a lesson I need to take to heart.
I am not sure if it is just a human trait or more prevalent in our American culture, but we have a certain idea in our heads of success and we can put a lot of pressure on ourselves to reach that goal. Often, those goals can be very worldly and have nothing to do with God’s idea of success.
David Brainerd comes to mind when I think of a historical figure who toiled in obedience to the Lord and yet saw little, of what he (or we) would term, success – at least during this life. David Brainerd (1718-1747) was a missionary to the American Indians in New York, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania. Born in Connecticut in 1718, he died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-nine. (Click the link on his name to read a short biography.) He devoted his life to bringing the gospel to Native Americans and when it finally seemed that hearts were opening to trust in Christ, he became very ill. He spent time at Jonathan Edwards’ home at the end of his life. Jonathan Edwards published a book of his life and writings which became Edwards’ most published and read work. For over two centuries now, it has served as an inspiration to ministers and missionaries throughout the world. (Information contained in this paragraph is from the link mentioned above.)
A quote from the linked article:
Certainly Brainerd’s work was extraordinary, but the question still remains: why have the records of his short ministry (three years) had such a profound and lasting impact? To answer this, several characteristics of Brainerd’s ministry must be considered.
First, David Brainerd gave up his life in complete devotion to the Lord’s work. We can see a picture of this in some of his final words:
It is impossible for any rational creature to be happy without acting all for God. God Himself could not make him happy any other way… There is nothing in the world worth living for but doing good and finishing God’s work, doing the work that Christ did. I see nothing else in the world that can yield any satisfaction besides living to God, pleasing Him, and doing his whole will.18
Although he was originally concerned about material comforts, Brainerd came to believe that nothing mattered except serving God. He also sought God regularly through prayer and fasting. He records days of prayer and fasting more than anything else in his diary. In fact, it was so important to him that he taught the Indians to pray and fast before he would administer communion to them. Clearly, Brainerd had a heart that was intent on seeking God and doing His will to the best of his ability.
Do take the time to go to the link and read the rest of this short biography and see what the other characteristics were of David Brainerd’s ministry. We can learn a lot from the way he lived his life.
John Piper wrote, “Brainerd’s life is a vivid, powerful testimony to the truth that God can and does use sick, discouraged, beat-down, lonely, struggling saints, who cry to him day and night, to accomplish amazing things for his glory.”
That is where I am. I am a discouraged, tired, struggling saint (saved by the grace of God through Christ), crying out to the Lord asking Him to empower me and help me where I feel completely unequipped to do what is in front of me.
From David Brainerd’s own words:
I never saw the work of God appear so independent of means as at this time. I discoursed to the people, and spoke what, I suppose, had a proper tendency to promote convictions. But God’s manner of working upon them appeared so entirely supernatural and above means that I could scarce believe He used me as an instrument, or what I spake as means of carrying on His work… God appeared to work entirely alone, and I saw no room to attribute any of this work to any created arm.
The story of Brainerd’s life can encourage me in obedience with the knowledge that any success/fruit/outcome is completely in God’s hands and will come about by His power and will. I love that the Lord chooses to use us in His work, but may I always be cognizant of the fact that it is He that brings about the results.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10
(All photos I use in my posts are my own photos unless otherwise credited.)