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More Lessons From New Orleans

“It’s not the nature of God to limit his risks and cover his bases. Far from it. Most of the time, he actually lets the odds stack up against him. Against Goliath, a seasoned soldier and a trained killer, he sends…a freckle-faced little shepherd kid with a slingshot. Most commanders going into battle want as many infantry as they can get. God cuts Gideon’s army from thirty-two thousand to three-hundred. Then he equips the ragtag little band that’s left with torches and watering pots. It’s not just a battle or two that God takes his chances with, either. Have you thought about his handling of the gospel? God needs to get a message out to the human race, without which they will perish…forever. What’s the plan? First, he starts with the most unlikely group ever: a couple of prostitutes, a few fisherman with no better than a second-grade education, a tax collector. Then he passes the ball to us. Unbelievable.” (Wild at Heart, p.32, Eldredge)

One of the greatest blessings that I received from this mission trip (yes, ironically, I received much more than I could ever have given) was the realization that God is calling his people to stand up, and none of us are more or less qualified to fill that job description.

So many of us look at faith from the world’s point of view, like it’s some sort of bar graph, as if we can measure our devotion. How many of us have thought we’re just not cut out to be a Super Hero Christian, how many times I’ve thought, “I’m no Billy Graham”.

The truth is, we are all Billy Grahams. Just like our local pastor, we’re all Mike Browns. That’s what we’ve just learned in the sermon he gave last week. We’re all ministers in some form or another, because we’ve all been called to the mission fields of the world. And that means New Orleans just as much as it means Brandon or the street we live on in our neighborhood. There is a need for ministry. Ministry of all types, which is great for you to hear, because that means that one of those types will fit your gifts, your talents!

The key is looking at ourselves from God’s point of view. He sees us from above, and from that angle, we’re all on the same playing field. Billy Graham, you, me. 🙂 He’s not going to whip out a different rule book entitled “Volume II, Substandards for the Lukewarm” when you or I stand there on Judgment Day. It will be the same book that Billy will face. What did we do with the gift he gave us? Did we bury it or did we multiply?

On this trip God revealed that lesson to me over and over. Here we were, the seven of us, and every one of us on a different “spiritual level” by man’s measurements. Some were strong Christians, some were just babe’s. Some were settled in our ways, some searching, some still questioning. But it didn’t matter. God used us all, and God blessed us all, because there was one like-minded ingredient: Faith in Action.

God didn’t call on Moses and ask him to sit down in the desert and mind those sheep, he asked him to go preach to The world leader. God didn’t ask Abraham to stay in his tent, he asked him to trust him with his own son’s life. Esther didn’t just lie back and enjoy her cush lifestyle in the palace, she made history. He didn’t ask Joshua to farm the land just outside the Promised Land, he told him to cross the river and slay his enemies. David didn’t have a seat at the campfire with the other thousands of Israelites who were doing nothing as they listened, day in and day out, to Goliath’s rants. He ran, directly towards Goliath, with some rocks and a slingshot!

He used these men and women when they stood up for him, when they acted in His name. When they did all they could do, God picked up where they left off. That’s our mission.

One of the pictures that I picked for this column certainly isn’t the most photogenic, and there’s really nothing beautiful about it, until you look a little deeper. It’s the picture of a simple ladder in our van, on the way to our job.

Yes, it’s just a ladder. But, it’s Brother Bill’s ladder from New Covenant Fellowship, in the van loaned to us from Prairie Hills Church, surrounded by saints from Living Springs. All brought together in the name of Christ! And every piece came together to roof an elderly couples home last week!

The irony is that nothing in the picture works without action. The ladder does nothing just sitting there. Neither does the van, or even the men and women sitting on either side. These tools must be put into service, into action, to be useful.

I remember our mission leader, Frank, mentioning that he was “young in his faith”. And yet who was it that had the gumption to act, to ask another church to let us use their van, and then to ask if we could use it to go to New Orleans?! How many of us would have stopped right there, thinking “there’s no way they are going to let us put those kind of miles on their vehicle. Oh well, maybe Living Springs will go on a mission later when we find the money for our own van.”

When we had some questions about some of the intricacies of our roofing job, I happened to look two houses over and saw a professional roofer, sitting in his truck. I chuckled, “We should just ask the professional over there!” In my mind I was thinking, “That guy would probably deck us if we walked over there, because really we’re just taking his business, over here doing a job that he could have bid on. He’d probably sooner spit on us than help us.”

Imagine the lesson I learned when I looked up to see Frank, this man “young in his faith” as he puts it, walking right over to this guy’s truck. Imagine how much it impacted me to then see this roofer jump out of his truck, shake our hands, and get right up on the roof with us to answer not some, but all of our questions! And not only that, the next day, that same roofer brought his wife up the ladder to meet us and to say hello. She told me how beautiful it was to see people like us down here working in God’s name…

I had to take a good long look at my heart, because like is said in my earlier post, I needed a transplant. I think we all do. What have I learned? To Act. God picks up where you leave off, Christian. Sitting still is easy. It’s what everyone is doing. You need only to stand up and act, in His name, and He will take care of the rest. If anyone is insterested, I’ve placed the images from the trip online. Any proceeds from prints ordered will go to our church missions ministry. Click Here: The password is ‘shanks’

In Christ,

Dan Elliott Photography

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