Forty two years ago I walked into the St Clair Avenue recruiting center and said “I want to belong”. Five years later, as my initial contract was about to expire, I approached my Sergeant and said “I want to serve”. One year later, shortly after arriving in Germany, I attended my first bible study and at the end of the evening said “I want to follow Jesus”. One year later I was offered my commission and declared “I want to lead”. Twenty five years passed and injuries added up as I was being released from the military I said “I still want to help” and became a member of the public service. Last week, as I was reflecting on my years with the government Solomon’s words, as recorded in Ecclesiastes, came to mind “Everything is meaningless, says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”
Every day I served, followed, lead and helped I interacted with people who needed God and yet I rarely spoke with anyone about Him. I attended church, engaged in spiritual practices but was so focused on my own relationship with God that I completely missed out on the holy relationships God desired when Jesus said “love you neighbour as yourself”. For years I developed a relationship with God and focused on my eternity and for whatever reason somehow did not think it necessary to concern myself with the eternity of others.
I felt my forty two years were meaningless not because I believe the military or the public service have no value. On the contrary I believe these roles are necessary in our society. I know, as do many of my military peers and colleagues, that responsibilities such as these help many and add value to our communities. However it was all truly meaningless. In 1979 when I told God I wanted to be a follower I in fact failed and became an observer and bystander. I did not intentionally ask the Holy Spirit to use me to make other followers. I did not align with God’s will to have His word spread to all nations. I did not share the hope or love that possessed me with those needing Jesus.
However all is not lost for me or anyone else who may have felt they missed out on sharing the Gospel. While we still have a breath in our lungs, we can ask God to use us in His kingdom building. We must however prepare ourselves to become disciples who desire to see others become followers of Jesus. We can ask the Holy Spirit to be with us during our daily interactions and to prepare those we will meet to hear or see a disciple of Jesus. We can ask God to allow our life to be a witness so people may see of what a life of hope looks like. We must continue to grow in our knowledge of God and we must be prepared to tell others what we know best about the Gospel, our own relationship with God. We should know and be prepared to share our own testimony that includes what our life was like before we choose Jesus, the circumstances that led us to making a decision to become a follower, and how our life changed since we became a disciple. We need to desire and then be prepared to be used by God.
“Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” 1 Peter 3:15