And knowing God means living your life according to his Word: his commandments, his values, and his ways.
And perhaps there is nothing more radical (and more scorn-garnering) than working to succeed in God’s Kingdom, but not in this world:
To hope and work for things unseen, yet believed in.
To find joy and fulfillment in a work well-accomplished — rather than a work well-applauded.
To adhere to ancient principles of good conduct in the midst of today’s ultramodern and spiritually-bankrupt culture.
And to aspire to greatness, not by seeking positions of influence and power, but by becoming the lowest — serving God by serving all.
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The above might have made you confused, my friend. After all, if you look around you, there are many Christian leaders who have sought success and power just like anyone would — and except maybe for their add-ons of so-called “Biblical principles,” the methods they have used to achieve these things do not differ much from the rest.
Well, I don’t have yet the authority and knowledge to call them out, if they are really in error, but let me show you something, my friend. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, and the one we are supposed to follow, exemplified the type of leadership that he wants for his disciples, and that is servant leadership.
Jesus summoned [his disciples], and said to them, “You know that they who are recognized as rulers over the nations lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you, but whoever wants to become great among you shall be your servant. Whoever of you wants to become first among you, shall be bondservant of all. For the Son of Man also came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” — Mark 10:42-45 WEB
Perhaps you’ve been wondering about the reason behind my actions, especially why I am willing to spend so much of my time and energy in writing, and then just give it all away for free. This is the reason why. I serve God by serving you. I show God my love for him by loving you.
And the ironic thing about this is that, when you really want to serve God, you don’t think much about being great at all. And you also don’t think much about the results. Nor about the rewards.
Because when you are doing things out of your love for God, his approval is your only goal, and his love and joy your rewards. And I tell you, these will already more than satisfy your heart — even unto its depths. So that all the other blessings — prosperity, recognition, relationships, etc. — will only be add-ons to something that already completes you.
It’s Not About the Numbers
As I have mentioned in Part 2 of this essay, founding Swordsman of the Word has been very costly, and that these costs can never be measured. Years of my life spent in preparation. Hardships and suffering. My relationships and reputation.
I’ve also mentioned that there are still costs that I’m paying now as I run this ministry — costs that are the results of my Christian beliefs, principles, and Biblical message.
In other words, because I’m working to succeed in God’s Kingdom, the success of this world is forever denied me as a blogger. And if I am ever exalted, it will be according to the ways of God and because of his sovereign will.
In one of my founding essays, It All Belongs to Him, I’ve already laid down some of the principles I follow. For now, however, I will no longer talk about them nor expound more on them. For I’ve realized that I would need to finish first more classes in Bible school before I can come up with better versions of such documents, especially my own personal rules of blogging.
But what I want to point out to you today, my friend, is that because this blog is a service (or ministry) that I’m doing for God, I’m not looking at its possible success the way I would an ordinary blog. Of course, I would love to gain a wide readership and earn financial support from it, but these are not the main things I’m concerned about.
Rather, my primary concerns in this blog are serving God and honoring him. And as long as I have done my best to do these things, even if I don’t get much engagement from my readers, I am already satisfied. Yes. Because the greatest commandment is this:
Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God. Yahweh is one. You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. — Deuteronomy 6:4-5 WEB
And because it is God who has put me here to do this work, I know that I’ll be provided for, even if for now that looks impossible.
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you, always having all sufficiency in everything, may abound to every good work.
As it is written, “He has scattered abroad, he has given to the poor. His righteousness remains forever.”
Now may he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness, you being enriched in everything to all generosity, which produces through us thanksgiving to God. — 2 Corinthians 9:8-11 WEB
Another thing I’d like to point out is that my priority work here is content creation. Everything else that pertains to blogging, including marketing, are only secondary. After all, I’ve been called to teach, not to blog, and so teaching is my real work. Blogging is only my platform.
Yes, to those of you who know what I’m referring to, I really am building this blog hoping that someday they’ll come. But my version is different; mine is not a blind belief in luck or in fate. I know that they will come, my future readers, because God will send them. When he is ready. And when I am ready.
The good thing about working for God is that you only have to do the works assigned to you — simply be faithful, and trust and rejoice in God — and you can leave the results to him. This is a passage that applies not only to this ministry but to life as well:
Trust in Yahweh, and do good. Dwell in the land, and enjoy safe pasture. Also delight yourself in Yahweh, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to Yahweh. Trust also in him, and he will do this: he will make your righteousness shine out like light, and your justice as the noon day sun. — Psalms 37:3-6 WEB, emphasis mine
The truth is, if God wants to, he can send me thousands or even millions of readers in a few days time. But the question is, am I ready for that? Am I ready to serve such a large number of people? No, I am not.
One thing you should know about God is that every one of you who are reading these words are important to him. You are not just statistics to this blog! God cares about you personally, and so do I. So do I.
There is a story told in the Christian movie Facing the Giants by the Kendrick Brothers. Two farmers, it is said, desperately needed rain, and both prayed to God for it. But only one of the farmers went out and prepared his fields to receive it. This farmer, of course, is the one who believed that God would send the rain.
I am in a similar situation. I desperately need God’s blessings on my life right now, and not just on this ministry. But like the farmers, my fields are not yet ready. Yes. I’ve already been making preparations for a long time, but the fact is, there is still much work to be done.
And my prayer is that God would provide for me now sufficiently, so that I can continue doing those works.
It’s About Faithfulness…
The honest and plain truth is this: I’m not yet ready for this ministry. And it is only the grace of God that has enabled me to have come this far.
All the reasons for my failed reasonable life-plan last year… and all the reasons why I’d been so hesitant to start this blog… are now all being proven correct. Too much thinking and indecisiveness, they had said. But no, it was just plain common sense with a bit of vision thrown in. For who in his right mind would start a ministry like this, if his situation is like mine?
One who has been commanded by God to do so, of course. Which is why I am here. Doing this unreasonable thing. And being stretched in many ways as a result.
On the one hand, it does look like Swordsman of the Word has come into existence right on time. As a writer whose heart is set on service, this was my only real option to make a living, and the responses I got from other people do confirm that I’m on the right track. On the other hand, it also feels to me, sometimes, that this ministry has come too soon.
I don’t know. I just can’t help thinking that if some of the things that happened this past year had turned out differently (say, I was able to find a good job), I would have started this blog a few more years down the road — after my graduation in Bible school, and with my circumstances already in a much better state than it is now. As it is, my lack in ministry training, and my adverse financial situation are very real obstacles I’m fighting against right now, just to keep this blog running.
But all these now are pointless talk. This ministry is here. I’ve been commissioned by God for it. Have embraced it. And now I have work to do. Lots of it. Whether I feel ready or not.
Because at the end of the day what really matters to God is whether or not I’ve been faithful to what he has entrusted to me.
“For it is like a man, going into another country, who called his own servants, and entrusted his goods to them. To one he gave five talents [a talent is about 30 kilograms, usually used to weigh silver], to another two, to another one; to each according to his own ability. Then he went on his journey. Immediately he who received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. In the same way, he also who got the two gained another two. But he who received the one talent went away and dug in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
“Now after a long time the lord of those servants came, and reconciled accounts with them. He who received the five talents came and brought another five talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents. Behold, I have gained another five talents in addition to them.’
“His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
“He also who got the two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents. Behold, I have gained another two talents in addition to them.’
“His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
“He also who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you that you are a hard man, reaping where you didn’t sow, and gathering where you didn’t scatter. I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the earth. Behold, you have what is yours.’
“But his lord answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant. You knew that I reap where I didn’t sow, and gather where I didn’t scatter. You ought therefore to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back my own with interest. Take away therefore the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will be given, and he will have abundance, but from him who doesn’t have, even that which he has will be taken away. Throw out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ — Matthew 25:14-30 WEB
Faithfulness. This is the true measure of my success. For I may still have my struggles, but I’ve also been given much, especially of spiritual wealth, and I am expected to produce “profit” based on the capital I already have.
And I am seeing that there are two areas in my ministry that I specifically need to be very faithful on. The first one is in writing content, of course. And the second one is to continue preparing my fields for the rain, so that I’ll be ready to receive God’s outpouring of blessings and take this blog to much higher levels.
To go deeper into his Word. To cultivate more my spiritual disciplines, especially my prayer life. To build up my health. To finish my study program in Bible school. And to study more about writing, teaching, communication, language, etc. These are just some of the works I still have to do to further prepare my fields.
And as to writing content….
I would like you to know, my friend, that writing these essays for my testimony is very difficult for me, harder than I have imagined. True, writing from within has always been my style, and I know the kind of demands it makes — mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Nevertheless, I have still underestimated how taxing this work can be. I am literally wrestling with God in prayer (and sometimes in tears) for the words I am putting down here.
I think that it’s because this is now a whole new ball game, and that these essays are the not kinds of writing I’d ever done before. And I think it’s also because my main subject is myself, and I’ve been trying to scrutinize my life through God’s eyes — asking him, and straining against the limits of my understanding. “How do you see me, O God?” “How do you see my life?”
In time, I do know that writing for this blog will become easier for me, as I get used to this kind of work, and as I start to write more about God and his Word and less about myself. (Remember that it is only for the present time that I’m focused on writing personal essays.)
And for now, my assignment is to write my testimony, and this is the work I need to be faithful on, no matter how hard it can be. Even if I am often late now in my posting. And even if I sometimes walk around like a wounded animal — in a dark mood, and easily angered — because of the burdens I carry inside, the raw materials for my writing. My pains and disappointments. And my hopes and dreams that haven’t yet come to pass. You know, all the costs I’ve paid for this victory….
Because I understand: I might become so busy in my work in the near future, that there may never come again an opportunity like this, where I am free to write my story in this way. And so I need to do this now.
Well, at least that is what I’ve been saying to myself. Today I’ve come to different realizations. I’ll talk more about these in Part 4, but let me give you a now a heads up:
This series, My Testimony, will be postponed and will remain open-ended. And my next post, which is Part 4 of this essay, will include my wrapping up of Part 1 of this series. Then I will talk about other topics in my succeeding posts.
Why, you ask. Three reasons. First, I’ve accepted the fact that I cannot keep up for long this kind of introspective writing. Like I’ve said, it is very difficult. By my next post, I will be finished talking about my present life, and I’ve decided that that is enough testimony for now.
Second, I’ve realized that I’m not yet ready after all, to talk more about my past. Having given you brief accounts of what had happened to me these past twelve years is also enough for now.
And third, I simply want to move on from this, and to start living now this new season of my life as a teacher of God’s Word.
Yes, I just want to move on, and to be faithful in my works. However, there is one thing about my whole situation that I fervently wish is different: I wish that there is someone with me right now, sharing all of these with me, and showing me love and tenderness. Showing me support.
You know, one of those things that could have turned out differently, and set me on a different course….
…And Sufficiency in God
This is the one area of my life that I had most deeply hoped would be settled before I go out on the field to serve God. I had imagined myself already having a love relationship with someone around this time, while attending Bible school and preparing myself for God’s work, and then getting married after my graduation. Assuming, of course, that I had also found a good job to support a family.
You see, I feared being alone doing my ministry. I feared that if I have no one with me, the relentlessness of the enemy attacks, and also the demands of my work would simply overwhelm me.
Anyway, as you already know, my friend, things had not turned out as I had hoped. I am now serving on this blog, much sooner than I expected, and I got no love. And I was also right. I really cannot do this alone. Every day now I am feeling my need for a wife who will share my burdens with me, and who will give me the love and support I need. As I’ve said, it is only the grace of God that has enabled me to have come this far.
To make the best of my situation is all I can do now. Love would come in the right time, as they say. But I just can’t help thinking, again, that maybe God hadn’t meant for me to start out this way. If things had happened differently… then I would have founded Swordsman of the Word in a better financial state, and perhaps I would even have a love relationship.
Another question that is bothering me is, does love has to be that reasonable? Maybe if I had pursued it like how my heart wanted to, and maybe if I had not tried so hard to do “the right thing,” then maybe I wouldn’t be suffering this much right now.
But again, all these now are just pointless talk. She’s gone, and I’ll probably never know the whole story… never know if I had really acted according to God’s will or not. Meanwhile, I have a ministry to run, and I need to find a way how to survive emotionally. Because right now my heart is tired, and I don’t want anyone coming close.
Except for God, of course, who already reigns in the Holy of Holies of my heart.
By this we know that we remain in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him, and he in God. We know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. — 1 John 4:13-16 WEB
Maybe everything that has happened is according to his purpose. Maybe someday I’ll found out that my sufferings have been for the best, that they have brought about his will.
Or maybe I am simply being driven closer to God, to find a much deeper sufficiency in him. Maybe I just need to be in that place again where I can honestly say that God alone is truly enough for me.
I remember. I remember what I was like in the old days, when my love for Jesus was still new, and it had burned bright and hot.
Maybe God wants me to be like that again.
(to be continued)
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This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ. — John 17:3 WEB
How has this ministry helped you, my friend? Have you started to know God more?
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