I have just completed the first of six weeks of nursing home ministry. I am filling in for my good friends who are taking a much-needed six-week break. The message I shared for the first week came pretty easily. Since turning sixty-five last year I have struggled with issues of aging. I have asked questions like, “Has my opportunity for ministry passed?” “Is this the beginning of the end?” “What’s left for me?” Okay so I can be a bit of a drama queen.
It dawned on me that my struggles put me in a perfect place to minister to the mostly aging population of the nursing homes. Having struggled with the issues God had shown me some of the older folks he used in scripture like Moses who was eighty when he stood before the burning bush and Noah who had already passed 600 of his eventual 900 year life before the ark became an issue.
It seems a mistake to look at our “talents” and the “highs” of our lives when considering ministry. Sure it makes a lot of sense to take a stock of our positives to decide what we have to offer to others. The thing is that God doesn’t work that way. He takes the least likely and least talented to carry out his missions. In part, I suppose He wants the glory. When an ill-equipped saint is the vessel for blessings, it’s easy to give God the glory.
Even more, I think he wants the vessel to realize that it is only when God is working through us that we do anything really worth while. I know that seems heresy in our world that glorifies self-reliance and achievement. The problem is that we are called to live, not by the world’s rules, but by Kingdom rules.
In the Kingdom, everything is done for the glory of the King, through the power of the King. In the Kingdom, joy comes from sacrifice and service, not self and success. In the Kingdom, it’s all about our usefulness to Him, which is measured by our own uselessness. It’s a bit disorienting, getting use to Kingdom rules, but never forget, the Kingdom Rules, and that’s a very good thing.
If we want to be of service, we need to survey the stumbles, staggers and stupid things we have done. Face it, there are a lot more of those than there are successes, sweet accomplishments, and super hero moments. It’s in those “negative” times that we learn humility, compassion and thanksgiving for the one who pulls us through. That’s where mighty missionaries are made.
Looking back at my own “rap sheet” I am filled with ideas I can share next week with those who are older and, just maybe, wiser. Since all have sinned and fallen short, most will relate better to tales of our actual gory days than our imagined glory days.