When We Put The Do Before The Who
“...I keep waiting for God to give me something big to do….to give me an opportunity to serve Him in big way...and it just doesn’t seem to come...”
I can remember the conversation vividly even though it took place several months ago now. It was one of those weird transition days from winter into spring. Bits of green were just beginning to make an appearance as we hiked through the bare trees of the trail, pulling off layers as we covered a couple of miles.
The day and the scenery were beautiful, but the conversation had taken a bit of a more melancholy turn. I listened, and her words filled the space between us with meaning and the depth of her frustration.
“I have all these dreams and ideas for how I can serve God and make an impact. I keep looking for ways to fill up my life -- small groups, mission trips, service projects -- but, nothing seems to work out. I don’t know why God won’t give me some way to serve Him.”
Her sentiment hit me hard that day, and I recognized the way it felt. I think a lot of us grew up within the context of a Christian church that was focused on “doing a lot” to serve God. Whether it was going to church (check), reading your Bible (check), going on a mission trip (check), being a part of a small group (check), serving the community in some Jesus-like way (check), it created in us a need to DO to be a good Christian.
So I understood what my friend meant. There have been many points in my life where I looked around and wondered why God wasn’t bringing me more stuff to do for Him. Here I was this young Christian who loved the Lord and had a willing heart and willing hands. Why weren’t they being used?
But, as I listened to her mindset, I felt deep within me the Holy Spirit speaking a different narrative and reminding me of some solid Truth about what it really means to follow after Jesus. And how most of the time, it really isn’t about the DO at all.
This week we studied the appointment of the disciples, and it gives some clarity to that Truth I was reminded of that day in the woods. We see how it went down in Mark 3:13-15:
“And He (Jesus) went up on the mountain and called to Him those whom He desired, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve (whom He also named apostles), so that they might be with Him, and He might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons.”
This word appointment shows us another transition in the relationship between Jesus and His disciples. They began with “Come and See,” just observing Jesus in His ministry, then they moved on to “Follow Me” where they were living life with Him with a focused purpose - to learn how to be fishers of men. And now, Jesus is going to turn that purpose into a new role.
When you look at the original language we learn that when Jesus appointed the disciples, He was making them ambassadors that would be sent out into the world. He would send them out for one main reason, to be His witnesses (Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8). As witnesses of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, they would be the first to share the Gospel story with the world at large. And while they would testify of the Gospel, they would also have power to preach, teach, and perform miracles, even casting out demons.
All that to say, Jesus had some big plans for the disciples. He was setting them apart for some mighty work in the service of His Father. They were going to be the literal hands and feet of the Gospel, spreading it to the extent that we feel its results today.
What a promotion!
But what I want to focus on is one main phrase in verse 14 that may be easily overlooked in favor of the big huge role that Jesus had just laid out to the disciples.
“And He appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles), so that they might be with Him…”
We see here that the first reason Jesus appoints the twelve is so that they would be with Him. I think shows us how He viewed the work of these Talmidim. Yes, Jesus is appointing them to a great task and role in life, a vocation that will lead them far away from all they know to do the greatest work this world had ever seen...
But what has to happen first, is that Jesus must pull them in close to Him.
The way I see it, Jesus needs more concentrated intentional time with His closest friends and followers, His disciples. And, it also shows me they’re not quite ready for their appointment. Not that they aren’t worthy of the appointment. They’re just not ready. And the only thing that will make them ready is to spend time with Jesus.
So, this next step in their relationship with Jesus doesn’t take a detour from where they currently find themselves -- spending day after day together, living life, and learning from their Rabbi.
No, nothing has changed except the giving of the job. By appointing them, Jesus has let the disciples in on what is to come, but He doesn’t set them out for the job quite yet. It’s as if Jesus is telling His disciples, “I want you to be ready for when the time comes, but for now, just stay here with me.”
And, we know the rest of the story. There are many miracles left to be seen, many sermons left to be given, many many teachable moments left to be learned, culminating with an arrest, an execution, and (praise the Lord) the resurrection.
During it all Jesus will be there with His disciples, His friends and closest confidants. And He will use it all to equip them for this appointment, for what they will end up doing for the kingdom of God. To make them ready for the job.
What does that mean for you and for me?
Well, a few things.
One, in our relationship with Jesus we are set apart and appointed for work. We are meant to do, so to speak. It might be a job, a role, a relationship, etc. Wherever we find ourselves, we are appointed to take the Gospel out from the context of relationship with Jesus to the world, just like the disciples.
But, two, all of our individual appointments have to start with concentrated time with Jesus. There is no job, role, task, opportunity, whatever that doesn’t need us first to be equipped by our Savior. Time spent with Him in His Word will ultimately give us the tools, words, strength, and peace to be able to handle what will come our way as we live out our appointments.
And, three, we have to remember the timing of our appointments is not ours to dictate or figure out. The disciples heard their appointment, but instead of jumping into what they believed it should look like, they continued to follow after Jesus until the appropriate time. They didn’t rush it.
The same thing must be true of you and me. I can’t force the work of the Lord by putting the DO before the WHO, regardless of how frustrating it may be to me. I have to trust that there are spaces of my life where Jesus just wants me to be with Him. And I get to use that space to enjoy focusing on my relationship with Him as I let Him equip me for whatever He would bring my way.
It’s just proof that Jesus’s plan and timing are always best. Always.
So that is what the Holy Spirit reminded me of as I walked with my friend that day. And I got to share a bit of that truth as we made our way through those bare trees. That maybe in this space Jesus was trying to teach her more about Himself. And that maybe what He needed from her wasn’t for her to do anything more than to draw closer to Him.
Let’s pray that will also be true of all of us. That in those tricky spaces of life where we look around and wonder what we are supposed to be doing, why God isn’t bringing anything our way, we stop instead and focus on the Who.
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13
Amy Bufkin has loved Jesus for as long as she can remember. Even though she basically lived at her local church growing up, her faith and relationship with The Lord was incredibly shallow until her early twenties. It was then Amy learned how to study her Bible, began to truly commune with God, and her shallow faith began to deepen as she got to know her Lord and Savior. Now her passion is to communicate the same truths that changed her life to young women in as many ways as possible. You can find her on Instagram | Facebook