As I sit here at my kitchen table, a billowing cloud of smoke is swirling up through the spaces between the boards of the deck on the back of our home. At any normal home, combustion necessary to generate a smoke cloud as large as the one drifting across our backyard would be cause for alarm, but not at our house. I can calmly sip my tea because I know that the source of smoke is my oldest son, Ryan, working at his forge. It’s not the normal pastime for the average young adult male these days, but for years, (and the help of youtube) he’s taught himself some pretty impressive metal-working skills.
He and Clif have constructed both a coal burning (hence the smoke) and a propane forge, and with them, he’s worked tirelessly to transformed some unremarkable pieces of metal -like old mower blades, discarded car springs, railroad spikes and dull saw blades- into knives and swords that look like they might have come out of a scene from The Lord of the Rings. And deservedly so, he’s been pleased with the fruit of his efforts and enjoys showing them to his friends.
Most of the guys who examine his work up close usually say something like “Oh, that’s so cool. I wish I could do that.” Well, what they don’t realize is the huge investment of time and hard work that came before the finished product.
The same thing can be said of Christians who are trying to obey the Great Commission.
Stories of people who dramatically come to Christ remind us of the power of Jesus to take the ordinary and do the extraordinary. But what we don’t often appreciate is the effort of those who have tirelessly invested in the lives of these transformed believers. While we see the finished product (i.e. salvation) of a new convert, what remains hidden are the months, years and maybe decades of prayer, love, encouragement, teaching and patience that people thanklessly invested so the Holy Spirit could use them to soften a hardened heart enough for the Gospel to penetrate and do its transforming work.
Jesus said “As you go, make disciples of all nations…” (Matt 28:18) “Make” is the operative word in that sentence. And to make anything requires effort. Often a lot of it. Though we all can have lofty wishes about being used by God, most of the time nothing really happens until we move past the “wishing” stage, and are ready to roll up our sleeves, and get busy to actually do something.
This is the point where many potential laborers lose heart and some step away from the task. In this age of instant meals and googled answers to any question, we all too often lack the perspective of a master blade-smith who knows that every piece of metal requires preparation beforehand and patience while it develops into a useful weapon that’s ready to take into battle.
Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.