In my walk with the Lord I have noticed a cycle that I never seem to learn from and God never tires teaching me (He is indeed patient and loving father). I often turn to think that when a situation is hard for me or too difficult to deal with, then it must be hard for the Lord as well and amazingly the Lord rebukes me each and every time in ways I never forget. Now you might be thinking such a truth is an obvious one and should be straight forward for any mature Christian, but like most teachings in the bible, it is easier to confess a truth then to actually live it out in ourselves.
Recently I had the opportunity to work with the brethren in Francistown Central Baptist in Botswana. This was my second time going to that country and from my first experience I was highly persuaded that that country is HARD GROUND (whatever the term means). I however wondered on this visit what exactly we mean by “hard ground”? Do mean people are not interested in God or the gospel? Well which lost soul is interested in God or the gospel? The bible in fact says no one seeks after God, they have all gone astray (Rom 3:9-13), so we honestly do not expect dead people to love spiritual things do we? Maybe we say hard ground to suggest they persecute Christians and those who preach the gospel, which cannot be far from the truth, anyone who has been there will bear me witness. Do we say hard ground to mean it’s an Islamic nation and the powers that be are anti-Christianity? Statistics actually 70% of the country’s population is “Christian” (a in a very lose and general meaning of the word). If we however say they are not as religious as Zambia then we are correct, but yet again which country is as religious as our beloved Zambia? And whether or not that has been a blessing or curse is a topic for another discussion.
If anything the real issue in that country is that they have very few conservative evangelical churches that preach the true gospel. The traditional churches with their works salvation are well established, the charismatic churches with their hell condemning prosperity gospel are rampant and so are the cults. And God rebuked me for my shallow and unbiblical thinking. Whereas I was right to admit that I am small and unable, it was nothing short of blasphemy to think that the God who raised an army from dead, decaying, dry bones (Eze 37) is not able to quicken those who clearly seeking to make sense of life and looking for answers to life’s ultimate questions. It is insulting to the Lord of harvest to suggest that there is no hope for a people that Christ died for. It is a clear luck of faith to suggest that the gospel cannot penetrate where the hope sucking work’s salvation of the traditional churches is making headway and the frustratingly depressing prosperity gospel is equally drawing many.
As I sat meditating on the glorious and encouraging fact that nothing is impossible with God, the Lord also brought to memory the many times I have lost hope and made conclusions about people and God’s work and dwelt on the fact that it is difficult or impossible. Then I realized the importance of Christ’s last phrase in the great commission; lo I am with you always (Matt 28:18-20). The miracle working God is with us whenever we labor for His cause. It is no wonder that our labor is never in vain (1 Cor 15:58).
It is no wonder Daniel proclaimed that a people that know their God will be strong and do great exploits (Dan 11:32) and in more recent history William Carey the “father of missions” charged; “Expect great things from God, attempt great thing for God”. What we know of God must propel us to” labor for the master from morn till setting sun and talk of his wondrous love and care”.