From: Rich Tatum [rich]
Sent: Monday, December 04, 2000 10:59 AM
To: Sharpe, Kathi (NET)
Subject: RE: opinion? <grin> Would that all Christians felt that dilemma.
Like the nobleman said, in Christ's parable: "Occupy till I come." In other words, "I'll be back, but get busy in the meanwhile." That's certainly a strong argument for getting out there into the mission field. But, as always, be sure to exercise wisdom. Look at this passage (Luke 19) and note that the servant who invested most wisely is the one that was rewarded most handsomely. As Abe Lincoln is reported to have said, "If I have but one hour to cut down a very large tree, I shall spend the first half hour sharpening my axe." Encourage your son in his enthusiasm, but also direct his enthusiasm toward the wisdom of preparing himself for "the battle."
No matter how gifted and enthusiastic the athlete, nobody ever made it to the Olympics without years of preparation. Missions work is no less demanding and the stakes are higher. Meticulous preparation is called for, and that takes time. Remember how I mentioned that there is a several-year gap between when Paul was converted and the time he entered into public ministry.
Think about Jesus — there could have been no more urgent a call to ministry than the need for Jesus to heal the sick, free the captives, and finish his work on the cross. Yet, he is a curiously unknown stranger when he begins his public ministry in his 30s at the Wedding at Cana. Even Jesus waited until the timing was right in God's eyes and until he was fully prepared.
If ever there is a time when "haste makes waste" it is when people shirk personal preparation as they gird themselves to do battle for men's souls.
Nurture the desire to see Jesus return — don't dim that flame. This is our hope, and the less connected we are to the world, the brighter this hope burns. (Unfortunately, I have memories of praying that the Lord delay his return until I had married and had the opportunity to be in love and have sex at least once! Embarrassing, I know.) Many in the church have lost this hope. There are times in my life the passion for his return has faded. I think, when that happens, I've stopped "practicing the presence of God" in my life. Like Paul tells the Philippians to rejoice because "the Lord is near." If I allow myself to forget that the Lord truly is near — he's everywhere!--I also forget that he's returning.
Hopefully, Bobby's desire to see people saved is born out of love and compassion — which God can replenish: "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Rom. 5:5).
Does this help answer your question in any way? In the end, I'm not sure how to temper the balance, or even whether the balance should be "tempered" at all. Some desires are healthy and are not selfish at all. Take marriage, for instance, our desire to join to a loved one and become one flesh can be viewed as the most arrogant, selfish, act of all. Don't you think it's arrogant to expect that a person of your choosing will want to spend the rest of their life with you just because you want him to? Isn't that selfish? I mean, come on, just because you like being with this other person, somehow you have the gall to ask them to surrender their freedom of choice and their selection of romantic interests down to … you. And to think that you are worthy enough to be the focus of your mate's attention for the rest of your lives? Hah!
But, nevertheless, marriage is good, and sacred, and ennobling. There is, I believe, nothing "selfish" about the desire to marry. Or to have children. These are desires that are God-given and they are loving and, indeed, ought to be viewed as "selfless" when love is truly present. It's a lie from Satan to believe that desires like this are "selfish" and ought to be dampened — especially when you remember that marriage and parenthood are metaphors for our own relationship with God. The desire for a child to see her daddy come home from work is not selfish in any way — it's natural and ought to be encouraged. On the other hand, her desire should never get in the way of the need for discipline when it's time to clean her room!