Now don't get me wrong. There has been some fruit and for that I am grateful. I just can't help but feel like a farmer who comes up with a small harvest year after year. At some point any self-respecting man would have to stop and ask himself, "Am I doing something wrong? Is there a better way?"
Recently I turned to an old book hoping it might help: D.L Moody's Secret Power. It has been a blessing to me. And in the second chapter I believe God revealed to me a significant portion of my problem. Moody is discussing an old minister who has lost his power in the ministry. His health is failing and he isn't able to do much anymore. He says this:
I don't believe that man broke down at first with hard work, so much as with using the machinery without oil. It is not the hard work that breaks down ministers, but it is the toil of working without power.* (Moody, p.66)
When I read this I thought to myself, "That's me!" I have been working in my own power for too long. Returning to my farming metaphor, a farmer can fertilize, spray, hoe, irrigate and do many other things to help improve his harvest; but at the end of the day he can't make the harvest come any sooner. He can't even make the harvest come. That is dependent on things only God can control like the weather. It is the same in ministry and in our lives. There is much that we can do to prepare ourselves, our families, and our ministries for a good harvest; but at the end of the day we can't make it come. We can't draw people to salvation apart from the Spirit. We can't raise our children up to love the Lord apart from the Spirit illuminating the truth of the Bible to their minds. And we can't change the evil in our own hearts apart from the sanctifying work of the Spirit.
Since God revealed this to me I have taken comfort in Luke 11:9-13.
So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
Pray for God to pour out His Spirit on us. Certainly every believer is already indwelt with the Spirit. Scripture makes that clear, but Moody isn't talking about the Spirit being in us. Rather he is talking about the Spirit being upon us. He is talking about an anointing of the Spirit to bless God's work in our lives. I know God's Spirit is in me, but I am not ministering in the power of that Spirit and I am not daily walking in the Spirit as I should. So join me in praying for God to pour out an anointing of His Spirit for the work of the ministry. Pray for your ministers. Pray for yourselves. Pray for me.
For further reading...
Luke 10:38-42- I've been too much like Martha in my ministry life. Join me in choosing Mary's way.
*Secret Power. Moody, D.L; Regal Books, Ventura, CA:1987.