Monday, August 20, 2012

Becoming a Giant in Faith by JoAnn Durgin


Yesterday my husband, Jim, and I attended an event at Huber’s Winery & Orchards in the beautiful, rolling green hills (known as the “Knobs”) here in southern Indiana. The day was idyllic—perfect temperature with bright sunshine, a few clouds and enough of a breeze to keep it comfortable. Huber’s is a year-round, popular local attraction, as well as a tourist draw, where families go to pick fresh produce, feed the ducks, take carriage rides or hayrides (depending on the season), attend concerts, taste wine made on the premises or dine in the family-owned and operated restaurant. Jim and I were there to attend an event honoring those termed “Giants in Faith.”
           
As I listened to the stories of 29 individuals and/or couples who’ve served in ministry in one capacity or another (from age 10 to 92), I was awed. I was humbled. The ten-year-old sells lemonade, started an art class and holds a small fair in her backyard every year to raise thousands of dollars for the local children’s hospital. The oldest honoree has multiple degrees and has served as a missionary, Sunday school teacher, nurse and….well, you name it and she’s done it and appears tireless and ageless. One couple has been married 63 years, and in spite of the frailties of old age, they’re still serving the Lord side-by-side. With big, bright smiles. Another man we’re privileged to call a close personal friend felt God’s call and left his high-paying insurance sales job a couple of years ago to start a much-needed ministry for middle school and high school boys. Somehow, he’s managed to persuade the high school officials to allow them to meet in the high school once a week for meetings—training them in how to be effective communicators, leaders and young men of faith. What a vital ministry, and I so admire the strength and courage this man has to follow that passion and make it a reality. God opened the doors, and the kids are coming, praise the Lord.

Perhaps what impressed me most was the humility shown by those being honored. They shifted, looked down at the floor or up at the ceiling, and many seemed embarrassed. Others wore pasted-on smiles and some appeared as though they’d rather the floor would open and swallow them. The friend I just mentioned is a trailblazer, without a doubt, although he doesn’t see himself that way. Most definitely, he’s called of God. As we were speaking with some friends and prepared to leave the event yesterday, I mentioned how I felt I needed to be doing more for the cause of Christ. Not because I ever expect to be honored as a “Giant in Faith,” but…well, just because. Jim reminded me of all the things I’ve done through the years working with children and youth and in the local church when we served in ministry together in California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and then here in my native Indiana. Then another close friend (and honoree) said, “JoAnn, you’ve moved on to another type of ministry, and all those other ministries were a prelude and helped to prepare you for what you’ve been called to do now. You write Christian books and probably reach more people than most of us in this room combined.” Wow. I was humbled all over again, but not because of any sense of self-importance.

You see, it helps to be reminded we all have a purpose, a reason, a ministry unique to our spiritual gifts and talents. It’s part of God’s wonderful grace and another way of showing us His love. What we do with those gifts and talents is up to us. Take this blog, for instance. There are those who are gifted teachers and editors, and I so admire them all for sharing and imparting that knowledge. I write Christian romance, but I try to dig beneath the surface and impart spiritual truths through my books—through the eyes of my characters and their stories. It’s my personal goal and ministry to make people smile and be uplifted, but I’m not doing my “job” if they don’t walk away and feel they’ve been “fed” in some way from  God’s word. So, I write stories of much more than romance…I write stories of faith, family and deep friendships. Not everyone will like them, and that’s part of the lesson you learn when you become a published author. But for every one who doesn’t, there’s another you touch in some way. God knows, and that’s all that really matters.

I’ll admit, sometimes I’m weary and exhausted and take time to be refreshed. The best way to do that is to immerse myself in God’s Word and prayer. Read favorite verses of scripture and meditate on them. And then there’s refreshment that comes in entirely unexpected and wonderful ways, such as the letter from a woman right here in Indiana I received telling me how the second book in my series touched her, and her marriage, in a life-changing way. Those are some heady words, my friends. Again, it’s not about me. I write for an audience of One but with that higher purpose in mind. I may not be serving as a missionary in a foreign land, but I’m serving right here. Right where I live. And that’s my calling, and my ministry. What I do with that calling is my choice, but also my responsibility.

How are you serving Him today? Are you following your special and unique calling?

Blessings, friends. Matthew 5:16

JoAnn is the author of The Lewis Legacy Series published by Torn Veil Books (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada). Her fourth book in the series, Daydreams, releases in late 2012, as well as a Christmas novella, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, from Pelican Book Group/White Rose Publishing. She'd love to hear from you via her website at www.joanndurgin.com or on Facebook. 

4 comments:

  1. Others may never see what we do, but Jesus knows our labor of love. I feel that crowns we don't get here, we will get in heaven. And besides, it won't matter when we're in HIS PRESENCE ANYWAY!! :-) That human nature thing is so silly, isn't it? Write on!

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  2. Hi Karla. You're completely right, and you write on, too! Thanks for leaving a comment. Many blessings.

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  3. It has always confounded me how when you focus on doing the job he's given the ministry happens and when you focus on "making ministry" it ends up being about the job. You are so right JoAnn about the secret to keeping the fire burning is to let God engulf you. Thumbs up, lady.

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