Thoughts to Ponder

But I don't want to!

Has God ever asked you to do something that you did not want to do? I would be surprised if your answer is no. In fact I would go so far as to say if you can answer that question with a no, maybe you should examine your spiritual walk and see if you are open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I have been asked on several occasions to do things I did not really want to do. Sometimes it was to speak to someone I was sure did not want to hear about Jesus Christ. Other times it has been to go somewhere or do something that I just did not think I wanted to do.

To be honest there are different reasons why I don't sometimes want to do what God wants me to do. Sometimes it is as easy as the fact that I am lazy and don't want to be bothered. Other times it is rebellion which keeps me from wanting to do what God asks. I can be like Jonah sometimes. I think I know better than God what He should ask of me. 'Lord why should I talk to that scumbag, he talks bad about You and Christians alike?' God has to remind me that I too was a scumbag until He redeemed me.

I often have a tough time seeing with Christ's eyes. What I mean by that is that I know Jesus loves all mankind but I personally look at the outside and decide who is lovable and who is not. It is nothing more than my sinful nature coming through and it is something that I have to fight and ask the Lord to help me defeat.

An example is a ministry that I am now part of, ministering to the inmates in the Juvenile Hall Detention Center. When I was first asked to help follow up with the kids who had accepted Christ during a program the youth group put on, I said yes. After all I would be following up with kids who had already accepted Christ, and besides it was only a three week commitment. I found, however, the first night that we had no control over who showed up to our meetings. We were faced by a bunch of kids who ranged from wanting to know about Jesus to just wanting to get out of their cell block for an hour. I had flashbacks of the little dirtbags I had put in jail while I was a Deputy Sheriff. I remember them lying to me even after I would see them do something. I remembered them cursing me and spitting on me. I remembered chasing them on hot and humid South Carolina nights. I remembered thinking that the best place for them was in jail.

I did not want to get to know them. I knew they deserved to be where they were. I heard them talking about the cops who had framed them, or abused them, or lied to get them put in Juvenile Hall. Yeah right, I have heard all that before. I felt very uncomfortable in there with them. I felt like their dirt was going to stick to me, but I did my best to talk to them about Jesus Christ and His love for them. A strange thing happened; the more I told them about how God loved them the more I realized how true that really was. I took a close look at them and realized that they were just kids, just like my kids. For that matter just like I was at that age. The difference is that they made some bad choices and got caught. Jesus did indeed die for them.

That has been six months ago and I have not missed a Thursday evening with them yet. I still sometimes leave our meeting with them knowing that I might as well have been talking to the wall, but I also know that it is not my job to convince them to accept Christ, it is my job to be obedient to what God asks me to do. For five months we did not see anyone come to Christ. We saw where God was speaking to several kids, but we saw no real movement. Then about a month ago, one young man pulled me aside and asked me how he could be saved. I explained it to him for the hundredth time but this time he went through with it and accepted Jesus as his savior. The very next week another young man asked us to help him know Jesus. Wow two kids in two weeks after nothing for five months.

The next week we were back to nothing happening. It was a little discouraging but we just continued to talk to them. The next week one of the youth leaders who went with us felt led to give an opportunity to the kids to accept Christ. He asked them to bow their heads and he explained to them again what salvation meant and how to obtain it. After he was finished it was time for them to go back to their units, but he asked them if they had asked Jesus into their hearts to please talk to one of us before leaving the room. To our amazement over twenty kids lined up to talk to us!

I can take no credit for any of this, it is and was God moving in their hearts. I am humbled by it because I realize that if I had quit after the first week, those kids might never have had the chance to hear the message of God's free gift of salvation. That is a very sobering thought.

In the following verses from Revelation, John tells us that we are priests and are to serve God the Father. (Revelation 1:5-6 NIV) and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. If you have never thought about what that means you better.

Let's look at what the priests were asked to do when God first instituted the office in Moses' day: (Leviticus 1:5 NIV) He is to slaughter the young bull before the LORD, and then Aaron's sons the priests shall bring the blood and sprinkle it against the altar on all sides at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. Think about how they were suppose to get the blood and sprinkle it around. I bet it was a messy job. I can't imagine that you could do it without getting a little, no make that a lot of blood all over you.

(Leviticus 1:7-8 NIV) The sons of Aaron the priest are to put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. Then Aaron's sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, including the head and the fat, on the burning wood that is on the altar. Have you ever made a fire? It is not a clean job either. There is no way that at the end of their day the priests were still clean. Being a priest entailed getting your hands and clothes dirty. It was an honor because you were serving God and you were helping people get right with God, but it was not easy or clean.

So why is it that we seem to think that God should not ask us to get our hands or clothes dirty? Sometimes the only way to help pull someone out of the mud is to get a little muddy ourselves. I am not talking about wallowing around in the mud with them, I am talking about reaching out and not flinching when they grab a hold of us with muddy hands.

Let me give you one more example. Several months ago God showed me something about a person and asked me to confront this person. This person is a confessing Christian but what I saw showed me that this person was not in God's will. This is a well liked person who keeps up a good appearance. I knew this could get messy, in fact I was sure it would. I did not want to confront this person. I pleaded with God to get someone else to do it. I even got a little mad at being asked to do it. What if I end up looking like the bad guy in all of this? What if I lose friends. What if no one understands why I am doing this? This person knows right from wrong just as well as I do, so why is it my problem?

God would not leave me alone about this. My favorite book of the Bible is the book of Ezekiel and God used that book to convict me: (Ezekiel 3:18 NIV) When I say to a wicked man, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. Was this person lost or just not totally in God's will? I could not know for sure and that verse kept ringing in my ears. I could not get it out of my mind. I knew I had to do what God wanted me to do.

I don't yet know what the ultimate outcome is going to be. I wish I could say that the person accepted my words with thanks giving, but that did not happen. I got a little bloody and dirty in the confrontation but I know I did what God wanted me to do. I know also that God is in control no matter what happens.

I forget where I heard it but I once heard that if you show up in heaven and your heavenly armor is not dented and scratched it just shows you never got into the battle. Well I think also if you are not a little bloody and dirty you probably weren't doing your priestly duty either.

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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