A few months ago, when my family was with me in India and Nepal, my wife and a couple from our Indian office staff took a two-day train ride to another state.
When my wife came back, she shared with me about her trip. She said, “While we were traveling in the train, I was sitting up late in the evening looking out of the window into the dark night. As the countryside was flying by, I could see tiny lights coming from thousands of little huts scattered everywhere. In my heart I began to wonder how we would ever be able to reach all those people with the Gospel.”
I told my wife, “It is true that India is a huge country with an enormous population. We must reach them one person at a time and one village at a time.”
Our confidence and encouragement are this: God will never ask anything from us that cannot be done! If there is a thought of impossibility, it is always with us—never with Him. He has solutions and ways prepared in His infinite wisdom about which we would never even dream. Isaiah 55:9 says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
For example, who could have ever imagined that when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, God’s plan was to part the Red Sea as they were being pursued by Pharaoh’s army with no evident way out? Or who else other than this wonderful God could give His servant Joshua the confidence to pray for the sun and moon to stand still until the battle was won?
We serve this same God today. His thoughts and ways are still higher than ours. He already has answers and solutions about how to reach these billions of people with the Gospel. We can be confident that His ideas are much better and more effective than any of ours.
But how can we know the mind of God? The answer is by walking so closely in obedience to Him each day that He can guide and direct every single step we take.
Jesus is our example. The Son of God became the Son of man and demonstrated for us what it means to live a life that brings glory to the Father.
Jesus was not motivated by the desperate needs around Him. In fact, when He heard that Lazarus, the one He loved dearly, was sick, He could have easily gone and instantly healed him. But instead, He simply said that His time was not yet come. True, it was the Father’s will for Lazarus to be raised up. But according to the Father’s plan, it was not yet time. So Jesus waited for several more days for the exact moment to come. Jesus never acted out of urgency but out of His obedience to His Father’s plan and purpose.
Jesus told us that just as the Father sent Him, He is also sending us. First Peter 2:21 says that we are called to follow in His footsteps.
Even so, much of Christian activity today is done in the energy of the flesh. The day of judgment will prove that it was nothing but wood, hay and stubble. All will be turned into just a pinch of ash. God will make sure that no product of the flesh will remain in eternity, even things that were done in the name of the Lord.
After three and a half years of teaching His disciples, the Master finally summed up all He had tried to teach and demonstrate to them—that without Him they could do nothing (John 15:5). Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). How much salt does it take to flavor food? Not much at all. But if the salt is without its saltiness, you can pour a mountain of it on your meal, and it will be useless. You see, the saltiness in us is the life of the Lord that flows through us unhindered. The mountain of activity that is done with our genius inventions, budgets, schemes and plans all means nothing because His very life is missing. It is all contaminated with our soulish strength and carnal reasoning. It is useless.
In the first century, a handful of people made a huge impact on their society because the life of the Lord flowed through them—when one community saw them, they simply cried out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6).
Turning our world upside-down—world evangelism and proclaiming the Lord’s kingdom in our generation—will never become a reality if we depend on the thousands of conferences, organizations, schemes and plans developed with specialized computer programs and Madison Avenue techniques. God is still looking for a minority of people who will seek His face with all their heart and do the work in His strength.
In one of his children’s books, C.S. Lewis describes a land cursed by a witch to have an endless winter. It is a difficult, cold time for all the creatures who live there. There is much suffering and hopelessness. But one day everything changes. A thaw begins. The birds, animals and flowers appear everywhere. Life bursts forth once more because Aslan—the great Lion, the Son of the great Emperor over the sea—is coming. It is His land, and He comes to set it free. The creatures are heard saying, “Aslan is on the move.” And then they sing: “When He shakes His mane, we shall have spring again.”1 The whole scene changes as the Lion advances into the cold, wintry land, and the power of the witch is finally broken.
This is what Jesus does. We can strive with all our own strength, energies and resources to do His work and reach this generation with the Gospel, but in the end it will all be for nothing. The little that we can do will be a total waste because it will have been produced in the energy of the flesh. If, on the other hand, we can come to the place of total submission to His Lordship—doing what He wants us to do in the way He wants us to do it—then we will have accomplished the task. God told Jeremiah: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). I believe this challenge is meant for us as well. God wants to share His thoughts and plans with us for winning these nations for Jesus, but He expects us to ask Him how.
We will have confidence in the Lord’s strength as we face seemingly overwhelming or impossible goals set before us, because we will have His thoughts and not our own. And the fruit of our labors will not only be effective but eternal.
A man or woman who knows God intimately will never be intimidated or controlled by anyone or anything.
Reflecting His Image © 1998, 2004 by KP Yohannan, the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. It was written with the intention of encouraging and edifying the Body of Christ. To learn more about Gospel for Asia or to receive additional free resources, visit Gospel for Asia’s website.