We all have had and will have assignments in our lives. From school to work, it is a given that there will be a task, many times with a timeline attached to it, that needs to be accomplished.
I remember homework assignments in school. I remember assignments as a reporter. I remember assignments in the business world. But the most life-changing assignment I ever received was when familiar words from the Bible suddenly came alive and set me on a course that I pray continues.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. – II Corinthians 1:3-7
I knew I had, and I would, experience affliction and that I would be comforted by a loving Father. But as I read these verses, a stirring in my heart, that recognition that more was required of me, came alive. The understanding that in whatever happened in my life I needed to endure it patiently and accept comfort from the great Comforter, willing to offer the same to others. I realized that the more things seemed to go wrong in my life, the more I was being trained to reach others, to offer them the comfort God gave me. I would be able to help them understand how much they are loved, and that God’s plan may not always be understood, but it is a plan for ultimate good; eternity with Him.
I remember standing on the stage of that little church on the hill and proclaiming to the congregation that the Lord had given me an assignment through these verses, and for the next ten-plus years I was obedient to do the best I could to follow through with the assignment. I trained in evangelism, and then taught classes in evangelism. I did outreach ministry. I talked to hurting and grieving people. I visited and prayed with people. I worked with children to senior citizens, doing what I could to help them find their own assignment.
I wondered sometimes if I succeeded in what I set out to do. I discovered the more I did, the more I learned, and I was finding out just how much I didn’t know. Still, through it all, I learned about the Triune God, about people, about myself. Now I wonder if that wasn’t the real assignment. All those years, and efforts, and mistakes, and joys – discovering, sometimes in painful ways, that it just is not about me. At all.
We all have assignments. Fine-tuned to fit our gifts, perhaps, but still, we are all charged, by Jesus: Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:16-20
I can’t do all the things I used to do. At this time in my life, being able to physically get out and visit people is a major challenge at times. The season for me to do a lot of things has come and gone. I spent years on the church stage with a worship team, either on the keyboard or playing the guitar. Arthritic hands hinder that now. I used to sing on the worship team, and at revivals and special programs, and the voice is not what it used to be, rarely on key. That doesn’t stop me from praising with a thankful and joyful heart. I confess that took longer than I like to admit, my getting to that point. When the bottom fell out of “my” ministry, I felt like I had failed somehow, had become worthless. Ah, the lessons my loving Father taught me in that season about pride…
God gave me an ear to hear, not only Him but also my brothers and sisters who need someone to hear them out, to have empathy, to truly understand what they have been through. To pray. To love. To offer hope. My assignment made that possible. It humbled me to see as He sees…at least in some small part. To understand that just because the how has changed the why hasn’t, and the opportunities to continue the assignment remain. Thus, I write.
Oh, there have been many assignments in my life, but that one was the life changer. What assignment do you have that will determine the journey God has waiting for you?
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