Be Ready for Mission – Let God Lead (4/5)

“Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. After three days the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.” Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”” (Joshua 3:1-5)

It can be very tempting when engaging in ministry to get ahead of yourself. The temptation is to ‘hit the ground running’ with all sorts of strategies and plans, most likely based on what you have seen modelled or have used yourself to some success in the past. It may even be tempting to employ a business model which has worked well in the secular world. The questions we must ask ourselves are: are Gods ways, our ways; is His work a spiritual or physical one; is it His work or ours?

I find the account of Joshua as he is poised to enter the ‘promised land’ very helpful in illustrating the principle of allowing God to go before us. Let’s take these thoughts in turn:

“When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it.” (Joshua 3:3)

Perhaps reading how they were instructed to send the Ark of the Covenant out in front of them seems arbitrary, but, not unlike all the Lords instructions to the Jewish people, there is often a deeper meaning and perhaps a principle for us to learn from them. In this case it’s that we should let the Lord to lead the way ahead and that we should follow.

“Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.” (Joshua 3:4)

This is another fundamental reason for us to let God lead, namely as we haven’t been where we are going before; it’s all new. We have no idea to where the Lord will lead us, and probably wouldn’t have thought to go that way unless He had lead us there first. Even if we had thought to perhaps go and do something, it would not necessarily be wise to force ourselves where we are not first sent – all sorts of trouble await us along that path. But, that isn’t to say that because the Lord leads the way, that it will therefore be easy; you still need to be a little brave and to ‘show up’. It’s amazing what God can do through you when follow His leading, stepping out of your comfort zone and allowing Him to take you where He has lead.

If we limit ourselves to our own imagination and work within our own comfort zone, we do exactly that: we limit ourselves!

Some examples: Before I set out in my own adventure in ministry, I had never preached, never written anything serious for public consumption or had any experience of public speaking; I have now found myself sitting in a room full of young soldiers speaking about deep matters of faith, sitting with an Army Education Officer speaking philosophy and preaching the gospel to a church full of infantry soldiers. There have been many more ‘firsts’ than I could count, each and every one of them having been a challenge for which I have had to rely fully upon the Lord, and was something, for the most part, that I could never have ever imagined doing; if you’d have told me just a few years earlier I would be doing these things, I would have thought you mad.

“But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.” (Joshua 3:4)

Did you think it strange how it says to keep a certain distance between them and the Ark? It illustrates that, not only should we follow the Lord as He leads, but we must allow Him room to manoeuvre ahead of us. This means being patient while the Lord prepares the way ahead. I have been known to go blundering on into something, forcing my way only to fall flat on my face, so to speak. But, when I’m patient, prayerful and don’t fret the Lord has brought me into contact with the right people at the right time. This has the habit of being a far more fruitful use of my time. Again, it’s His work, so let Him show you the way and to whom you will speak. Conversely, work with those He puts in your path, since they are likely there at His bidding.

“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.” (Joshua 3:5)

Before we can set out in ministry, we must be resolved that it will be our life’s mission (at least for the duration of the specific calling) and that we will set ourselves aside for the task as our main priority, as is fitting when working for the Lord; we must consecrate ourselves: we are sanctified, set aside for holy use, in the same way that the utensils in the tabernacle were. This is an important thing to remember: you were chosen for, and set apart for, the specific work to which He called you.

I have found applying these principles to be of such good practical use. Indeed, if we limit ourselves to our own imagination and work within our own comfort zone, we do exactly that: we limit ourselves! If we give ourselves time, not rushing in, praying that God will open up opportunities for us, we find ourselves doing things that we would never have dreamed possible, and are stretched just beyond our own comfort zone so that we learn to rely on the Lord, and that in the end, the credit goes to Him – this is only right and proper, since all of the work is His anyway. It’s in following these principles that I find myself doing things that I lacked the power to imagine ever doing.

Before setting out on your own adventure in ministry (and we all have a part to play in the gospels work), allow the Lord to lead you where you have never been before, follow leaving room for Him to work ahead of you making opportunities; then take them: the Lord really will do amazing things among and through you.


Now we have grasped the concept of following His lead to open the way ahead, next time in Be Ready – Confidence (5/5) we will look at why we can be bold in stepping out to follow Him…


To read the thread from the series Be Ready, follow this link:

http://walkingwiththeword.com/tag/missions/


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