Sunday, May 11, 2008

In Need of Laborers

There are some stories in life that the heart does not readily forget. There are some words that so pierce the soul that it leaves an ever present heart-shaped indentation that cannot be explained away. One such story was told at a marriage conference that I attended with my husband some years back. The speaker was relaying a story about being in the Denver airport, waiting to board the underground tram to get to the next terminal. He was telling us that as he was waiting to board the train, he noticed a single mother with four children, all loaded down with luggage and various items. The youngest of these children was a beautiful little girl, maybe four or five years in age. He was the father of four boys and had never had a daughter, so he found himself somewhat entranced with this beautiful little girl. He said that as the train pulled up, everybody was crowding the door to get on board, and as the doors opened, it was just chaos as those on board were trying to push past those crowding their way on. He said that as he got on and got himself situated, he turned back to the door just in time to see it closing, with this little girl standing on the other side. In all of the chaos, she had not made it on the train, and her mother had not yet noticed. As the train began to pull away, tears began to stream down the little girl’s face. She stood on the other side and watched her family roll away from her. This man, a pastor and speaker, approached the woman immediately to let her know that her beautiful daughter had not made it on the train, and as the mother began to panic, the man assured her that he would go back to get her and return her to her mother’s arms. The man left his luggage and valuables with this terrified mother, got off at the next stop, and went back for the little girl. As the train pulled up, he could see this precious little girl, standing in the same spot in front of those horrible doors that closed her out, sobbing. He stepped off the train and explained the situation, assuring the little girl with as much information about her family and whereabouts as her mother had told him, and then simply asked her if she would go with him to be rejoined with her mother. She threw open her arms, sobbing all the while, and went with him.

The image of those horribly unforgiving doors closing out the lost is just heart wrenching. There will come a day when our train will arrive. We will be called to board, and all those who do not know Jesus will be left on the outside of those doors as they close and we pull away. The day will come when we will look back toward the doors and see our loved ones, our family and friends who do not know Jesus, standing on the other side. The doors will close and the terrifying realization will come over us all. They will not be joining us for this journey Home. What a dreadful thought, yet we take little action to prevent it. We have become a people of excuses and justifications, rights and limitations. We want to protect ourselves, as if our own lives are ours’ to protect. In the process of protecting ourselves, we neglect the needs of the rest of the dying world. In the process of finding comfort and security for our own lives, we have distorted the gospel of salvation into one of complacency and resignation. We have become content with the fact that our names now rest in the Book of Life, and have ignored the calling and responsibility that goes along with that great privilege. We have reduced His saving grace to mere fire insurance. We put boundaries and limitations on what we are able to do or what we are comfortable doing, forgetting that God is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever imagine. We limit what He can do with us and in us by limiting what we believe He is capable of doing. We pat ourselves on the back after doing a project or two, resigning that we have done enough for the time being. Is it ever enough though? Matthew 24:14 says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” The end has not come, the world does not yet know, it is not enough. Our work is not yet finished.

As we are preparing to leave for Africa in a few weeks' time, the reality of where we are going and what we are doing is sinking in more and more. There is so much work to be done, and yet the overwhelming majority of God's children are not stepping up to take share in the work. It seems as if the Church is losing ground. But how can that be, since we know how the Story ends? Raise up laborers, Father. There is work to be done.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for relaying this story again Shauna. As soon as you started telling it I remembered it as well... your point is well- taken. How can I possibly be okay with going through each day side by side with those I care deeply for (at work, in my family, even casual contacts) doomed in eternity. Oh Lord help me to be bold...


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