I was recently on a road trip to visit family friends and had the opportunity to attend church with them. I continue to find it amazing how God aligns these events in my life where I hear a spoken word, or a new song, or some other event that speaks directly to something I am dealing with in my life. I cannot explain it, but I believe that it is God’s way of communicating with me in this season of life. In sharing these personal experiences I hope others will listen for how God is speaking to them.
The pastor of this church gave a message title “Famous Partnerships”. He started by referencing partnerships that we all recognize in culture… Ben & ________, Hewlett- ___________, Tom & _________, Fred & _____________, Smith & _____________, and the list goes on. Nearly everyone reading this will automatically fill in the blank with the associated “partner” with the greatest of ease. But what about Biblical partnerships? We then shifted gears to discuss Paul and Barnabas and their partnership for ministry.
Acts 9:26-28 New International Version (NIV)
26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
Barnabas and Paul’s were partners in their ministry in Jerusalem as discussed in Acts as well as other passages, but this is not where this sermon hit home the hardest. The closing “point to ponder” was where God spoke through this sermon to me directly. I had been in prayer for sometime about my role in our church. What ministry was I being called to? Was the ministry I was considering what God had for me or what I desired? Here were the closing questions he left us with, which rattled around in my heart and mind for the next week.
1) What partnership in your past have successfully advanced ministry?
2) What partnerships are you considering to further ministry?
3) What partnership do you dream of to further ministry?
These questions were so heavy on my heart that I sat down and wrote detailed answers to these questions. In doing so I found an overwhelming peace about ministry opportunities I was considering. I have a desire to work closely with the youth in our church and community. Mostly with teenage boys as they go through their high school years and many of whom desperately need Christian men in their lives. As I thought through more details and actually wrote down what this may look like, God directed my pen and what ended up on paper was the ministry I plan to pursue. I am looking to enter this ministry with confidence that it is from Him and not of myself.
The third question was eye opening and had some intense soul searching associated with it. What partnership do I dream of….? I continually came back to this answer: I dream of a spouse who has a desire to see Christ exalted and glorified in our life together and fulfill ministry as a couple. Having come from a recent divorce, I was shocked how pointed God was with this and how through prayer, I continually came back to this portrait of my future. I dream of a future with a spouse who will read the Bible with me, pray with me, and affect the world for the Kingdom of God. We may have identical ministry direction or completely different, but the partnership of a marriage with Christ at the center, focused on serving others in his name is something I look forward to. I see this is so many around me and I see how powerful and ministry changing it can be. I have vivid childhood memories of my grandparents being those people. I will always remember staying with them overnight and awaking in the morning to the smell of extremely strong coffee, wondering into their kitchen, to find them holding hands and praying or reading their Bibles. My heart yearns to repeat that image in my golden years.
Thank you Lord for the message you delivered to me in a whole another church I had never set foot in before. Your timing is impeccable and never ceases to amaze me! The peace I found of my unknown future was greatly advanced through this encounter and I cannot thank and praise God enough for it.
How is God speaking to you? Through a sermon? A Song? A profound word from a stranger? I truly believe God speaks to us much more than we recognize. Slow down, pay attention, be still, and listen.
Finally… what ministry partnership do you dream of? I would love to hear! Be blessed!