After raising support and being in full time ministry, I have had a hard time adjusting to living a seemingly “normal” life at home in Jacksonville Florida, studying for my masters and working as a nanny. But during this time, God has shown me what it really means to do full time ministry. We have used that term to describe people who have an occupation in the church, missions, or with Christian organizations. But in reality, if we follow Christ, we are always in full time ministry. The whole of creation is groaning for reconciliation with our God and as Christians, we are given the ministry of reconciliation. As it says in 2 Corinthians 5: 17-20: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” He makes all things new through the redemption established by Christ and carried out by Christians as his ambassadors with the ministry of reconciliation.
What does living a life committed to the ministry of reconciliation look like? While I don’t think there is a simple or universal answer for what this looks like for each person, I do think there are a few general guidelines. I will just touch one the one aspect that the Lord has been teaching me. God has been gently leading me to live openhandedly as though He is fully sovereign, meaning everything belongs to Him and is under His control. It is not easy for me to live in such openhanded, reliance on God. But he has drawn me deeper in my trust and love for Him and gently pried my hands open from the things I held onto too tightly.
Open handedness with our lives in light of God’s sovereignty means more than just being willing to be generous. Openhandedness means letting go of your dreams and expectations for how your life was going to pan out. It means being content in the circumstances God has placed you in, knowing that He has your best interest in mind and is doing everything possible to draw you in closer to Himself. I thought by now I would have a job with a salary, live on my own, and be engaged. Instead, I live with my parents, work as a part time nanny, and am entering my late twenties as a single woman. Needless to say I have struggled with feelings of discontent and frustration that my life does not look how I thought it would at this point. These feelings have been perpetuated by the norms of the world, by the lives of my friends and even my younger sister who have established jobs or marriages already. But when I compare myself to others or the standard timeline the world presents, I lose sight of what is truly important, which is growing deeper with God in his likeness and freedom. I have realized the hard truth that God is jealous and will do anything to draw me deeper in Him. His jealousy is not the evil kind that we see in the world. Rather God’s jealousy is a longing for us to grow deeper with Him for our betterment. His jealousy is that He desires us to become more like Him and more in love with Him, which is always in our best interest. This means that I may never have the circumstances that I thought I would because ultimately, God will shape my life in a way that allows me to experience greater depth in Him. And honestly, I am so glad that he doesn’t give me what I want, or what I thought I wanted. Living openhandedly with God means that I have given all of my dreams, hopes and circumstances to Him, trusting that He will shape my life for my betterment and His glory. As I have grown in this, I am more content and free now than I ever have been, which is only by God’s grace. While I have not achieved my dream job or met Mr. Right, I have had a perspective change to see that thankfully, God’s ways are not my ways; they are better.
In this past year, many of my friends have experienced difficulties and hardships as their lives did not play out the way they thought either. But each of them have walked out of their situations understanding more of God’s goodness and growing deeper in trust of Him. This is not to say that they fully understand their situations or why they happened but that in spite of the confusion and pain, they know that God is good. This is living openhandedly with God and allowing Him to really be the Lord of their lives.
This openhandedness is also about material things as well. Everything belongs to God, given and taken away by Him for His ultimate glory. This does not make Him selfish or cruel because again, as John Piper says, He is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of my friends, family, and supporters in the past few years which has given me a better understanding of God’s undeserving grace and goodness. I want to thank each and every one of you for your generosity in my life that has encouraged me to live more openhandedly. By living more generously, trusting God to provide, I have found incredible freedom and joy. I no longer feel like I have to make it on my own, financially or in other ways. As the church, the body of Christ, I love seeing Christians reach out and trust God in their giving, embracing the Kingdom family with loving arms. God has placed needs in front of me to give to when I opened my hands and released what is not mine anyway. There is such joy in giving. If anyone needs suggestions for ways to invest in the kingdom, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will gladly share some of the needs that I know of. Living a life of full time ministry is for all Christians, in all walks of life, to share the joy of going deeper with Christ and loving the world as He did and does.
I just wanted to share what the Lord has been doing in my life and what he has been teaching me. Thank you for reading, if you got this far, and I hope that you will walk away encouraged.