The Joy and Grace of Serving the Lord
Grace F.L. Ho—Malaysia
“The longer I serve Him, the
sweeter He grows …”[i]
Serving the Lord certainly grows
sweeter as years go by, although we may meet with difficulties along the way.
In fact, these hardships help us to see the Lord’s guiding hand and strengthen
our trust in Him. Therefore, whenever we are weak and unsure of the next step,
we need to rely on the Lord—we will be awe-stricken at how the Lord solves our
problems and leads us on. Such is the unspeakable joy that I have experienced
in serving the Lord, especially since I joined the missionary work in India.
By the guidance and mercy of God,
I have been helping with Youth and Children Ministry in southern India since
1999. In recent years, I also joined in the gospel outreach work in Chennai
city (Tamil Nadu, South India), and in Darjeeling (Calcutta area, in the
north-eastern part of West Bengal).
WORKING FOR AND WITH GOD
My greatest fear in serving the
Lord is to work against God’s will. I have a phobia about working by my own
inclination. Doing so would be disastrous as it would be a waste of time,
effort, human resources and money; nobody would be edified and God could not be
glorified. There is, however, a deep satisfaction and comfort when you know God
is with you in your work. In fact this is all that matters. We are sent to do
His work, not ours.
In 2001, I was tasked to plan and
execute all Religious Education and Youth programs in India. While planning for
the first Intermediate Youth Bible Camp in 2002, I was unsure whether our plans
were suitable. Thank God, the Lord knew my concerns and allayed my fears.
During the Bible camp, a young sister saw a vision of several shepherds with a
flock of sheep and lambs in a jungle. Among the shepherds was a man in a
radiant white robe whose face she could not see. Yet, she knew that He was
Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord, we were strengthened with the knowledge that the
Chief Shepherd was with us in our mission.
IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER
Preparing for a mission trip usually
calls for many hours and days of knee work. We need to pray to understand what
God wants us to do and to ask for His guidance. I would usually ask some close
church friends at home and abroad to pray for the work we are sent to do
whenever we embark on a missionary trip. Quite often, when I see God’s
blessings and guidance in the midst of our assignment, I can only sigh with
thankfulness for the prayers of these concerned brothers and sisters. My joy is
complete when, upon returning, I can share with them on how the Lord has worked
through their intercessions.
LEARNING TO WORK WITH OTHERS
Serving the Lord is indeed full of
challenges. We know that a servant of God should have certain qualities such as
faithfulness, sincerity, integrity, honesty, gentleness, kindness, patience,
understanding etc. This is fairly easy to achieve when we are not faced with
opposition or divergent opinions. However, when we encounter difficult and
self-centered people, living up to those qualities turns into a challenge. During
these times, human relations become a thorn in our flesh. Nevertheless, we need
to be faithful to our work, do the necessary and yet not hurt our co-workers.
As I carefully tread this delicate path, I learn to trust God for wisdom to do
the right thing.
In one particular case a co-worker
wanted to change a program that had already been pre-arranged. Remembering
Paul’s exhortation to serve God and not man, I eventually decided to abide by
the given plan. Looking back, I truly thank God that He guided me without
affecting the working relationship with others and the Lord’s work was not
hampered. As we serve we learn the intricate skills of working along with
others. This is a bonus grace for me.
The intricacies of getting things
done among people with a different cultural background and work attitude can
sometimes be very trying and tiring too. Although I have been in India so many
times, I still find it difficult to understand their culture and mindset. Once,
an Indian minister of our church told me frankly that it takes an Indian to
understand the Indian mind.
Thank God, over the years I have
learned to work with our beloved spiritual family in India despite the cultural
differences. As missionary workers, we need to understand that we are sent to
help; for this reason we are expected to show greater patience and love, and to
correct with gentleness and humility when necessary (2 Tim 2:24–26).
Working with a team of like-minded
co-workers is a crucial factor in the joy of serving the Lord. It is a blessing
that we have a team of dedicated, optimistic and passionately mission-oriented
workers for the India missionary work. We share the same goal and passion for
the Lord’s flock. Along the way, there may perhaps be an argument or two as we
confer, discuss and plan, but we know why we are there. Every worker knows his
mission and his call to serve the Lord’s young flock.
At the end of each mission trip, I
always have this feeling: thank God we had each other to complete His work! As
we part for home after every mission, we hug and shake hands, thanking God for
another completed assignment. We are filled with the joy of having shared the
fruit of labor. Such is the joy and spirit of comrades-in-Christ!
OVERCOMING PHYSICAL CHALLENGES
Serving in India is not without
physical difficulties. The long tedious journey, the back-breaking terrain up
mountains, the dust, the grime and the polluted air of choking carbon dioxide
in the unending traffic jams in a chaotic city are some of the physical
discomforts we have to compromise with.
Sometimes, we may still be
traveling in the middle of the night, reaching our destination well after
midnight. By the time we climb into bed it may already be 2 am or later. Yet,
we have to be up by 6 am the next morning to pray for strength and guidance in
our work. Tiring indeed and I often wonder how I “survived” given my frail
physique. But as I reminisce, my heart overflows with praise and thanksgiving
for God’s abundant grace.
Once, after coming home from a
mission trip, a minister in my local church approached me and held both my
hands in his. As he praised God for bringing me home in good health, tears
welled up in his eyes. I was touched beyond words. Thank God, over the years
and with each missionary trip I have become healthier. This is a fact that
local church members and my friends attest to. Indeed, I am humbled by God’s
grace and mercy for me, an unworthy maid in His service.
SOURCE OF INSPIRATION
A life of service to the Lord
would have its source of inspiration to start with. As for me, my first
inspiration came from God’s love, which has so very often touched me to tears
and has motivated me to serve Him.
I began to be interested in
missionary work in my late teens, when I read about various Christian
missionaries. In addition, I received much spiritual inspiration from our
church’s elders when I was assisting in theological seminars in Singapore in
the seventies and eighties. These full-time ministers made an indelible impact
on me with their dedication, humility, love and wisdom. In addition, I could
see how much beauty and meaning serving the Lord brought into their lives.
Indeed, serving the Lord deepens
and broadens our perspective of life. Personally, I feel untold joy and inner
peace to know that the time, money and effort spent will never go to waste,
despite difficulties and hardships. We can rest assured that serving the Lord
will bring an unfading and imperishable reward from the Master on the day we
meet Him, along with the joy and grace we receive now on earth.
So dear readers-in-Christ, do you
sometimes feel a void in your life although you attend church, pray and read
the Bible? That’s because the Lord has a task for you. He’s waiting to give you
the joy and grace of serving Him!