23. Use it!

“Watching & Waiting” Meditations: 23. Use it!

Lk 12:18 I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones.”

In an earlier study we considered the problem of not using the ‘talents’ that the Lord has given us, but there is also the danger that having been given and having used and having been fruitful, we call it a day and stop there. The kingdom of God is never about stopping – except when the Lord says so. I do believe that sometimes the Lord gifts us for a season and then asks us to put the gift down and move on. Philip the evangelist, as we tend to call him, was like this. He had been one of the ones who had fled the persecution in Jerusalem where he had been called to be a deacon (Acts 6:5), then Stephen had spoken out (Acts 7) and his stoning seemed to release a wave of persecution with Saul at its head imprisoning the Christian believers (Acts 8:3). So many of the believers, including this little deacon, fled the city and going north Philip ends up in a Samaritan city (Acts 8:5) where he shared about Jesus.

I suspect it was to his surprise, and certainly joy, that many believed, and he found himself with an amazing signs and wonders gospel ministry (v.7). So deacon (season 1) to super-evangelist (season 2). After Peter & John had come to support and accredit him, and then return to Jerusalem, when Philip might be excused for thinking that it was back to business, an angel turns up and tells him to leave all this and “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (v.26) I don’t know of you have heard the expression, “the whole thing went south.” As on a map it means ‘going down’ badly! When the stock market is ‘going south’ you know it’s time to sell your shares quickly. But not only is he ‘going south’ as far as his present ministry, he’s now called to walk a ‘desert road’. The thing about such roads is that they are not heavily populated – and he’s now an evangelist who needs people, but that ‘season’ is coming to an end for the moment at least. He’s not told why he’s got to go, but he goes and then he comes across a high official from Ethiopia. (season 3) To cut a longer story short, he leads the man to Christ and the gospel is now being taken into high places in Africa. Who saw that coming? The Lord of course! When the man is about to leave, the Spirit catches Philip up and returns him to his next season of evangelizing (v.39,40).

But what has all this got to do with our starter verse. Well I recounted the story of Philip because his story is how it is supposed to be – us being led by the Lord (whether through His word, by the Spirit or by angels) from one place of fruitfulness to another, never considering we have arrived or even perhaps, retired. Just as an aside for older people, I love Psa 92:12-15 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” That’s me and I pray daily, “Lord, please use me today.” We may not as physically able as we once were but that should not hinder our mind or our voice or our pen! ‘Retirement’ just means moving on into the next season of fruitfulness.

But back to our starter verse: I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones.”  The next verse shows what is really behind his intent: “And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’  There are always three danger when you have been successful. First, the is the danger of wanting to hang on to what comes, what we’ve achieved. Second, there can be the tendency to be proud of what we’ve got and achieved and ‘they’ haven’t! Third, there is the danger of feeling, “I’ve done what I was called to do, that’s it, now I can relax and rest.” Philip’s story reveals the error in that.

There seems to be that combination of that in the farmer in Jesus’ parable. But in the kingdom of God the teaching is, use what you’ve got, or lose it, or give it away to bless others, or lose it. Even more, as Philip shows, the Lord wants our continuing availability – maybe changed because of age – so He can continue to use us and make us fruitful in whatever season we find ourselves. So if we’re still watching and waiting on God, how can we give away what we find ourselves with? If we have revelation – share it. If we’ve been encouraged, encouraged someone else. If we’ve received faith in prayer, how does the Lord want to extend our praying? Maybe the starting point is to ask, what have I received and then, Lord, how can I give it away? (Jas 1:5) Or in those words so often found on the lips of the President of the United States in the series ‘The West Wing’, “Right, what’s next?” Today’s success, today’s blessing, today’s fruitfulness does not mean we just sit back to the sound of applause from heaven, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Mt 25:21) In one sense, the attitude, “‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty,’” (Lk 17:10) is a good one for the children of God to hold on to, as they prepare themselves for ‘the next thing’. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s