I don’t know if you have ever been involved in a big mission effort. Maybe you helped at a summer camp, or your church put on a special outreach event. Maybe your scripture union had a big praise night, or you were involved in street reach projects in your community. Maybe you had a powerful conversation with a guy at work and planted some seeds in their life.
I don’t know what you have done, but I know that when I am involved with things like that all is well and good, until they end. That is when the problem begins. Because I start to worry about what is next. I want the next event to be just as successful, and to have at least as much impact. And I worry that it won’t. And so I don’t do anything, because I am afraid that what comes next won’t be as good. I am afraid that what comes next won’t impact as many people. And because I am afraid that what comes next won’t live up to what has gone before, I do nothing. I don’t want to come down from the high of the previous thing. I don’t want to risk that what comes next will fail, compared to what went before.
For example, several weeks ago I wrote a blog post about lust and bikinis. I believe it was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and God used it to speak powerfully to many people – it became one of my most read articles of all time, people I didn’t know were discussing it on facebook, there was a huge discussion on reddit, friends gave me some positive feedback, things were good. The logical thing to do would have been to write some more articles to try and continue letting the Holy Spirit use my writing to speak into people’s lives. But for the past few weeks since that blog post all I have written are reviews. Why? I was afraid.
I was afraid the next post wouldn’t be as popular. I was afraid people wouldn’t like it as much. I was afraid it would destroy the legacy of my previous article. I didn’t want to come down from the mountain top. I preferred to bask in the glory of what was in the past. I didn’t want to risk the future not living up to it.
But today I was thinking. During his time on earth Jesus spoke to many crowds. He preached in synagogues. He fed 5000 at one time. He entered Jerusalem to a hero’s welcome. But when his time on earth ended, there were only a few over a hundred followers who had remained faithful. And that was enough for Him. That was enough to forever change the world, and pass on a story about Grace that has endured for 2000 years.
Jesus didn’t care about the size of the crowd. He didn’t get discouraged when the numbers dipped. He didn’t refrain from speaking the truth even when He knew it would cost Him followers. He wasn’t seeking the buzz of a popular blog post or a big turn out for a worship event or a successful mission night. He was only seeking the approval of His Father.
And I have come to realise that that is what comes next. No matter what we do for God, no matter how successful it is, no matter how it compares to the next event we are involved in, what really matters is that we are seeking the approval of the one who matter, our Abba Father. And when we do that it wont matter to us if what comes next is more fame, or a background role. It won’t matter if what comes next is a bigger crowd, or a smaller crowd. For when we are seeking the approval of God alone, and we remember the parable of the lost sheep, we realise that God values each person so much that even if what comes next for us just impacts one person, it is not a failure. Because that one person is someone God loves and Jesus died for. So don’t let the fear of how well what comes next hold you back from doing what God has called you to do. Do it. Seek His approval alone. Don’t put pressure on yourself to live up to your past glories, for our God is doing a new thing today. If He leads us to bigger and greater things, so be it. And if He doesn’t, we need to learn to be content to say that He has a plan, and He knows what He is doing. We need to learn to value the one as much as the ninety nine.