Following the initial call to disciple, oftentimes, there is a time of waiting—a time that can be frustrating, or a time that can be filled with promise depending upon our focus. We live in a fast pace world and we want everything yesterday. I remember, back in 1990, when God first called me to this ministry I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to start discipling those who were hurting; to help set the captives free. But then the sands of time were slipping by and nothing seemed to be happening. There were no great doors of opportunity opening before me. I got discouraged and wondered if this “call” had really been from God or perhaps it was just my wild imagination. Little did I know, in those early years, that what I was experiencing was a normal part of my walk with God, something that I learned to observe and appreciate further down the path.
I once read an interesting book by Andy Stanley titled Visioneering: God’s Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Personal Vision in which he talks about this time of waiting. As words of encouragement he shares the stories about when God called both Nehemiah and Moses. In Nehemiah’s case, from the time God gave him the vision to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem to when he actually started his ministry was four months. While on the other hand, from the time God first gave Moses the vision to set His people free until the time Moses actual did just that was forty years. So take heart, from the time of your calling to the actual beginning of the work could be somewhere between four months to forty years![i]
Stanley’s book then goes on to teach various principles that a person can and should be busy about during this normal time of waiting. However, the principle I want to elaboration upon for this blog post in How to Disciple the Hurting I actually learned from the sunflower.
Although I was filled with vision, plans and excitement to begin this ministry work in that far away city, which I shared about in the previous blog post, upon arriving—nothing happened! Week after week went by and soon frustration sat in. I complained to the Lord, “Why did you bring me here if nothing is going to take place? I could be back in the States with my family and friends.”
Yet once again as I was traveling to another city to visit a friend there were the acres and acres of sunflowers. But now their heads were bowed down as if in prayer. It was then that God spoke to my heart: I planted you where I planted you so that you can pray effectively.
Many times before a great work of God can begin there needs to be a time of prayer—a time when we are praying for the brokenhearted, a time when we are asking God to prepare us, a time when we are begging God to use us. Because it is in the prayer that your calling becomes real and a part of who you are.
We see this in Nehemiah’s case. Listen to what God’s Word says about Nehemiah when he heard that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down and its gates had been burned with fire.
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
—Nehemiah 1:4, niv
In fact, God’s Word goes onto say that Nehemiah prayed day and night. Just as you and I are called to “pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17, nkjv).
So there were the sunflowers—acres upon acres—most with their heads bowed down as if in prayer. But a few, just a tiny few, had their bright, shining heads poking above the rest. As if they were mischievous little ones who couldn’t contain themselves because they were filled with hope and excitement—waiting for a peek of what was to come.
As we pray, we are to wait in expectancy and look with hope for the open door of God. That is just what happened to Nehemiah. As he was praying and waiting upon the Lord something happened.
Nehemiah was the cup bearing to the king, a very high and respected position of his day. A person could not be downcast in the king’s presence because it could actually cost him his life. Yet because through prayer this call upon Nehemiah’s life was becoming a part of who he was, his continence portrayed what was taking place deep within his heart. Because of this the king asked him, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart” (Nehemiah 2:2, niv).
Without Nehemiah contriving and making his ministry happen God opened a door for him to walk through. Here it was, his chance to share his heart with someone who could make a difference.
As you pray for the people around you who are hurting, the ones God puts on your heart, ask God to open His door of opportunity to you. He knows whose heart is ready to listen to Him. He knows whose heart has been calling out to Him (see Psalm 102:1-2). In fact, many times I pray for a particular person for months sometimes even years before God opens the door of opportunity to minister to them. Sometimes the person is a close friend or relative, while other times it is someone I hardly know, someone I’ve just observed from a far but I can tell they are hurting. One such person God recently opened the door to minister to was a family member of a person I read about in the newspaper.
My heart broke for the family of this man. And I asked God that IF it was His perfect will to use me to minister to this family then please open the door. He did just that!
This open door will come in a variety of ways—watch for it, be ready for it—and when it happens do what Nehemiah did—walk through it.
Is it scary? Yes! But listen to what Nehemiah wrote in response to the king’s question. Remember, it could have cost him his life. “I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” (Nehemiah 2:2b-3, niv).
It was then, if you go onto read the rest of the story found in Nehemiah chapter 2, that the king—a heathen king—provided everything for Nehemiah to do this work of God, to fulfill his calling in life! Amazing!
So while you are waiting for God to open the door of opportunity—pray—never cease praying for those who are hurting. But also, get ready! The topic of the next blog post will teach you what to do when God opens the door. So don’t miss it. If you haven’t already, you might want to subscribe to the blog so that you will be notified the moment the latest blog is posted. Simply find the “subscribe” button on the right hand side of this page (of if you are reading this on a devise other than a computer scroll down to the bottom to find it) click the box for “blog updates,” fill in your email address and click the “subscribe” button. I promise to never share your email address. It’s as simple as that!
I look forward to your comments questions and prayer requests. Feel free to share this blog with friends or pin it. Oh, and I also included a small Bible study at the end of this blog to help encourage you in your walk.
Enjoying His grand adventure, Cherie
Individual Bible Study
Look up the following verses concerning prayer: Psalm 102:1-2; Luke 6:28; Romans 8:26 (allow the Holy Spirit to direct your prayers for the hurting), Colossians 4:2-5; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12; James 5:13-16.
Make a list of people that God is putting upon your heart who you know are hurting. Keep these people in your prayers and ask God to open doors of opportunity to minister and disciple them.
[i] Andy Stanley, Visioneering: God’s Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Personal Vision (Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books, 2001).