Most Christians will eagerly talk about their ministries, their service, their work for God. But how many of us truly surrender? Who step out of our comfort zones and allow God to work fully through us? Total surrender like asking God whom they should marry, and live by His leading. Who ask Him what career path to take and begin it, no matter how improbable or difficult? Who ask God to allow them to serve and do it anyway even thought is it costing them pain or money or reputation?
For this first thought, we have the word labor. "And He was saying to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." (Luke 10:2) Jesus asked us to labor. He didn't ask us to be busy. To remain active. To minister. To peck away at this or that in between ball games and work meetings and the dishes. He asked us to labor. Laboring is hard. When we think of a laborer we think of a drywall hanger, a concrete mixer, a bricklayer, a tomato picker. It is hard, backbreaking, sweaty work. It makes you tired. It drains you. When you labor, you are completely wrung out at the end of the day, with not an ounce of energy left. Do you labor for the Lord?
Next we have the word fight. "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 2Timothy 4:7" Paul said that to Timothy at the end of his life. Paul fought. He knew better than most that we are in a battle. A soldier doesn't remain on leave 50 weeks a year and then fights a skirmish or two. A soldier fights. He battles. He rages. He wields all weapons at his disposal and he gives not an inch of hard-won ground. Do you fight for the Lord?
Last we have this thought: "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried." GK Chesterton. Fewer and fewer these days even make the attempt. We know this because Jesus will say, "So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked" (Revelation 3:15-17). The Christian life is hard. It has high standards, asks much, costs us in labor and fight and as we become more successful for the Lord it gets harder, not easier. Many won't even try the Christian ideal anymore. Are you one of those?
Many who try sometimes do not see results in their lifetime. Noah preached for 120 years and won not a single convert. Abraham left his country and his father and all he knew to wander in strange lands for decades. Ezekiel was told to stay mute for much of his life and his wife's life was taken as a living parable. What the Lord asks us to do is hard. "From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more." But the flip side is that we know this life is so short. And eternity with the Risen Lord is long indeed, with He Who labored and fought the most. What is it but a few years of labor and then, glorious rest? If we but surrender to Him to be fully used, like Peter, like Paul, like Martin Luther, like John Wesley, what could we accomplish for Him? Much! ALL!
At the end of my life I want to look like that towel. Wrung out, having fought the good fight, unable to deliver one more drop for my Lord. Just as it should be. How about you? Will you find your place of service this year? Surrender fully? Think of all those whom you could help in His name, all His plans that could be accomplished in you. And then the end will come and we get to the good stuff. The good stuff will be with Him, able to stand with tears in eyes as "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'" Mt 25:21.