IS IT UP TO ME, LORD?
The answer is, “Yes.” It is up to me to be, who I ought to be, and do what, I ought to do. The thing that holds me back is fear. I am afraid to ask, “Is it up to me, Lord?” I was not the first nor will I be the last to feel that way. Jesus spoke of a person like that, “I was afraid of you and I did not feel that I could live up to your demands, for you harvest without sowing yourself” (Luke 19:21). The other one heard a voice, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” And He said, “Go, and speak to the people” (Isaiah 6:8-9). I too learned that it was up to me to answer my prayers. I had to overcome my hesitation and go to places where I least expected an answer. “Anyone, who knows the good he ought to do and does not do it, sins” (James 4:17)
The Parable of the Ten Minas is about the need for people to step up and take risks for their employers, in this case for a king or for God (Luke 19:11-27). Nobody volunteered and the owner picked ten and gave each one a minas. The first brought back ten minas, the second five and the third the one, he had received and the remaining seven had to draw their own conclusions. Each one of these people answered their own prayers. They got exactly what they deserved. The tragic part is that what the third man defended was his own downfall. He did not invest, and it cost him whatever he had because, even one minas accrued interest, which had to be repaid. In the Parable of the Ten Minas, the man paid with his life and so did all the others that did likewise.
This was precisely where I spend much time waiting and praying for someone to do something for me. I had to be practically pushed off my fear zone to get out and do it. Even after I had graduated with a Doctor in Theology and I had gained a considerable amount of experience, I was being told that I was not aggressive enough to advance in this competitive world. I had this idea that the Lord would promote me and help me rise up the ladder. I thought that I was about to move up to step four on a ten-foot ladder when the reverse occurred and I was hunted by this question, “What do they need you for, they have everything. Go, where they need you.” During this time, a committee from a church half the size I was serving, had made a third attempt to secure my service and I moved down to step two. Family needs became pressing and a 35 members church offered an alternative out West and I found myself back on step one. In the eyes of the world, I had moved down; but in my heart, I had stopped climbing and found myself gaining ground where I felt at home. At last, I was set free from the hassle of human respectability and success. Prayer, in my life regarding my ministry, had the reverse affect.
There is another side to my life and that brings me to Isaiah. His parents named him “Yah” (weh) is “salvation.” They were patriots and hoped that their son would turn Israel to the North back to God. It never happened. Isaiah’s message fell on deaf ears and the prophet suffered a cruel death (Heb. 11:37). He became famous after the children of the murderers erected monuments to the prophets in Judea (23:29-31). Christians have done the same to their martyrs. Not too long ago, I meditated at the statute of John Hus in Prague. He started what Martin Luther finished one hundred years later. These were simple people with a simple message, demanding change in behavior that offended the establishment, which had taken the blessings of God for granted. This is precisely what is happening to the free world, where free speech is still being allowed, and worse atrocities and abominations are committed than in Isaiah’s time. Like Isaiah, I am that little man along with quite a few others who are afraid to remind the giant Christians that they may have taken God’s grace and love for granted.
What does it mean to be a recipient of grace and love? It is similar to the people that were given the minas to invest. God, in Christ, decided to save me before creating the world, that when I was born, I would pass on His grace and love (Eph. 1:4; 2:10). Grace and love in my hands are like two empty cups, which I must fill with interests that glorify the Giver or Lender. It is this interest, which I am responsible for, which will determine whether I am allowed to continue as an agent of redemption. Like the man, who did not invest the one talent; he even kept others from enjoying it, and he forfeited his own right to remain in the system (Mt. 25:24-30). The Parable of the Ten Virgins hint at what kind of an investment Jesus is looking for. Oil is symbolic of healing and saving people and themselves. Grace and love are God’s oil placed in our lives to administer to others. The five foolish virgins could not even appear at the wedding. Apparently, they had dropped out from the program without knowing it when they stopped filling their lamps with oil (Mt. 25:1-13).
I, too, have suffered from the misrepresentation that nothing, I do or can do, is acceptable to God. Sin has and still does keep man out of God’s world. God, in Christ, has removed the distance by bringing His Kingdom and His Will to the door of our hearts. All we have to do is believe in Jesus and repent or stop sinning (Mk. 1:15; Lk. 17:20-21). It is this simple step, that man has complicated, or is it Satan telling us, that we cannot possibly live up to God’s requirements. Sixty-three years ago, leading individuals discouraged me from becoming a minister of the Gospel. Their good intentions were not benefiting me, because they would have stopped me from being a member of an organization that spreads grace and love as God’s healing ministry to mankind. It is called, “The Good News of God!” Just how difficult have we made that message? Can I live up to it?
The answer is a profound, “Yes!” It is up to me to spread some grace and love in the world inconspicuously. I do not feel that the Lord wants me to preface my deeds with his name (Mt. 7:21), or let the poor sinner know what I am doing (Lk. 18:9-14). He does not even want me to ask whether they belong to his kingdom; neither, am I to tell them that I am helping them in Jesus’ name. Why, there is no mention of me being a believer, but a human being with compassion for those in need or in trouble (Mt. 25:34-40). Doing what is right does not require a public announcement (Mt. 6:1-4). It was what Jesus did without telling them, who He was. He served as the Son of Man and not as the Glorified Son of God. He kept his identity so hidden that his enemies had to bribe Judas to betray Him. “Woe is me if I do not represent (preach – live) the gospel” (I Cor. 9:16).