A Place at the Table
There is less than a month to go before our trip to Ethiopia to see my wife’s roots and to labor among the churches.
Three statements struck me this morning from 2 Corinthians 12 in this regard: “I myself was not burdensome to you” (v. 13), “the more abundantly I love you” (v. 15), and “we do all things, beloved, for your edification” (v. 19).
If there is one thing we are trying to avoid on this trip, it is being a burden to either the missionaries or the nationals we will work with. Short-termers are all too often just that. Then, too, our trip is not for sightseeing, though we will do enough of that. It is aimed at edifying the churches by using whatever gifts and talents (medical included) the Lord has blessed us with. The motivation, of course, is simply love, as Paul said, and I must say that I feel a strange sort of empathy with these people whom I have never met but whose lives played such an important role in my wife’s childhood.
“Making disciples” (Matt. 28:19) involves many things, but surely it requires the pouring out of one’s lives into others, just as Jesus poured out His life for His “friends,” the disciples. We realize that we are building upon the work of a great many others, including my wife’s parents, who laid a foundation of gold, silver, and precious stones – the quality of their work and their motivations for ministry none can doubt. It is now our turn to perform those “good works, which God prepare beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10), realizing that these works themselves are a gift, so that no one can take pride in them. We are simply “stewards” (another Pauline expression: 1 Cor. 4:1), administering the affairs of our Master’s household, managing the time, talents, and resources He has entrusted to us.
Thus amidst the turmoil and busyness of life without, and deep stirrings within, we prepare to leave for the Horn of Africa, ministers of a King who cannot abdicate because He is not enthroned by the votes of men. Alone the Kingdom of Christ stands, guaranteed by the Word of God. We are, then, in a strange sense, simply going home. In the beautiful sentiments of Malcolm Muggeridge:
A sense of homecoming, of picking up the threads of a lost life, of responding to a bell that had long been ringing, of taking a place at the table that had long been vacant.
September 18, 2004
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. His latest book is Why I Stopped Listening to Rush: Confessions of a Recovering Neocon.