BY ONG KENG HO
Do I matter in the Lord’s work? I am just one person in his entire church. What can I do? There is just too much for one person to do? We are small. If only there were more people.
The world is captivated and motivated by numbers. Most of us have swallowed up the idea line, hook and sinker. So much so we feel hopeless when we are few in the work of the Lord.
Of course, numbers are important but not all that important in the kingdom‘s work of righteousness.
Isaiah’s point about Abraham in Isaiah 51:2 is a big lesson to God’s faithful. “Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him that I might bless him and multiply him.” Yes, he was but one.
Well, just suppose Abraham had said: ‘What’s the point of my emigrating from Ur? I’m just one childless person! What can I do, or how can I matter?’ There will be no fulfilment of divine promises, no people of God, no messianic line into which Jesus can be born, no worldwide salvation and blessing! Humanly speaking, this is true especially when the Lord is missing from the picture.
The Sovereign Lord has his own ways of achieving what he wants. And God did it as Paul tells us in Romans 4:18-25 with imperfect Abraham whose faith rests without wavering on the promises of God. The writer of Hebrews finds in Abraham the steadfastness of faith under trial (Hebrews 11:8-12, 17-19). And James tells us that Abraham’s real faith expresses itself in works (James 2:21-24).1
Isaiah’s point about Abraham is that, on the one hand, being a single, solitary individual is of no significance. On the other hand, the single, solitary individual is of great significance. Our solitariness imposes no limitation on the Lord. Instead our faithfulness as single individuals is of the utmost importance to the Lord.
Abraham must have spent many years, if not most of his life, wondering what it was all about. He had to wait thirteen years for the birth of Isaac, and, even after Isaac was born there was no intense divine activity that followed. Instead the writer of Hebrews gives us a peep into Abraham’s thinking as to “what’s all this about or when will it happen?” by saying he lived in a tent and looked forward to a city whose builder is God (Hebrews 11:9-10). Oh! how Abraham mattered. He was only one man. But he mattered!
“When three bricklayers were asked what they were doing, they responded with the following answers: The first replied that he was laying bricks. The second replied that he was building a church. The third replied that he was building the house of God. The different responses given by the bricklayers show that the first bricklayer saw his occupation as a job, the second saw it as a career, whereas the third saw it as a calling. People who describe their occupation as a calling are grittier than those who consider their work a career or job.” 2
Dear ones in the Lord, you matter, your work matters and this small church matters in the counsel of God. When the Lord has called us to be His tools, He will sharpen, power and sustained us for His glorious use. How shall He not for His name is at stake.
1 A. Motyer , Isaiah by the Day
2 From A. Duckworth’s “Grit”