Midnight Ministering

On Saturday I read something that has been hugging me all week. It’s kinda been a rough one, with two sick kids, one sick newborn, and a sick mama. There’s been a lot of meltdowns, runny noses, and headaches, and the kids are having a hard time, too. I knew this stage would be hard: the 4 am feedings, the recuperation from childbirth itself, and the hardest part: the inability to do everything my mind wants to. I feel like these first few months of the newest, Beautiful one are a time when everything is put on hold. It’s survival, adjustment, call it what you like. I think to myself everyday: everyone’s fed, the house is standing. We did it!

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You see, I have huge prayers for our children. If you’ve followed this blog from the beginning, you know where my heart is. If you haven’t, know that I have a huge, bottomless passion for the hurting. For people exploited by trafficking. For children hurt by those they love. For people, in this country and around the world who are abused, and never get to see the Father’s love because of the hatred surrounding them. It brings me to tears. I can’t separate myself from it. I’ve always been involved with social justice; I believe, as a Christian, it’s part of our mandate. We are called to this. Yet, my teenage years and early twenties were a complete waste. With so much passion, and no responsibilities, I could have done a lot of good. Now, I am in the middle of a beautiful life, where I can try to affect some change, but it will always have to be on the side. My biggest prayer is that our children will be able to do so much more than I’ve been able to do. I pray, with the Bible as my guide, that they will be world-changers.

That they will be history makers.

That they will be healers.

That they will have visions.

That they will minister to others.

But most of all, that they will be such a face of God’s truth bearing love that the enemy will never stand against them.

However, they are little. They are 5, 3, 1 and 3 weeks old. So part of me feels like we are on hold. We aren’t there yet. We only have 2 out of 4 potty trained, for goodness sake. All this feeding, nursing, diaper changing, cleaning, nose-wiping, hand-holding, “why” answering, vegetable forcing, candy-hiding, disciplining, mediating, and wall scrubbing is just a means to an end. The “end” being when they can do it all themselves, of course. It is easy to get discouraged, and tired.

And then I read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10. Our church is doing a daily Bible reading plan, where we go through the Bible in one year. I like it because I feel like I stay more dedicated, and that I’m not missing anything. You’re supposed to journal each day, but I don’t, and I’m still going to heaven. Here’s what it says:

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors;known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Now the word “commend” means “to represent as worthy of notice, regard, or kindness; to speak in favor of; to recommend.”  I am not a theology scholar. I could have gotten this wrong. But I do read, and this is what my Bible says, and my Bible dictionary. What I read is that these are the ways that Paul’s ministry is credited. That is, the things that matter, the things that God notices, and others too. The things that make it a ministry, not just lip service. They aren’t just Sunday morning Christians. Mercy, if you are imprisoned and beaten, and you are not shaken, that’s for real! And then there’s the second half of the list, the purity, understanding, patience, etc. I can’t exactly read it while saying, yep, nailed it! Yep, that’s me! Nope. I almost glossed over these verses, figuring they didn’t really apply to me right now.

And then I read closer.

in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 

SLEEPLESS NIGHTS.

What Mama hasn’t had those. At eight months pregnant, tucking in one of those awful fitted sheets around a top bunk with one eye open at 5 am. Not knowing how to make the baby stop crying. Assuring your child there aren’t any lions in his bedroom. Cleaning up vomit. Wondering if the sickness is serious enough to go to the hospital. I know some moms who have even taken in other women’s children, and are starting this all over again. I imagine it doesn’t get better as your children grow up: praying that they are making the right decisions, hoping that you did everything you could.

Sleepless nights. It seems like it is when the whole world is on hold, and you are just surviving. But that is completely wrong.

God sees these nights. He hears our prayers. He feels our anguish, our pain, our shortcomings. He knows our love, but most of all, He is shown in our love.

This is ministry. Right now. At this age, at this time. If you are a mom or dad who have lost sleep over your children, believe that He notices. He loves your children more than you do. He says over and over in His word how important children are to Him. I want so badly to raise our children up to minister to others. I’m so blessed to be able to minister to them, first. This is not just survival mode. This already counts, for the children and to God. You don’t have to do anything big. You don’t need to know all the answers. You don’t need to get it all right. You don’t have to look pretty. You just need to wake up and be there.

This is ministry.

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