By Marc Daniels
AVONDALE, La. (LBM) — I was reminded one morning of how nothing is wasted in the Lord’s economy.
I have been pastoring at the same small church in the same hard-soil neighborhood for more than 22 years; and, at times, I get frustrated and wonder if my labor is making any kind of difference.
We’re a community-based ministry and I’ve been a neighborhood pastor. Consequently, I often get calls from people I’ve never met, asking if I’d officiate a funeral for someone I don’t know.
I try to make myself available as much as possible, but sometimes I feel a little bit hardened towards the idea because it seems such “outreach ministry” is unfruitful. Very few of such situated services I’ve presided over have resulted in people visiting the church, much less led to professions of faith.
But I found myself having to repent when I was forced to recognize that the Lord is always at work, and He rewards even the slightest obedience with great blessings.
My epiphany resulted from a phone call by a woman wanting to know if someone was available to lead a memorial service. I had to decline because of an out-of-town commitment on the requested date, but I offered to reach out to the other ministers on staff.
I was honestly relieved that I would be out of town because it’s annoying that people reject the Lord and His Church in their daily lives yet seek out His ministers when tragedy strikes. But I soon was broken and repented of my sin!
While texting our youth and children’s ministers to check their availability I started looking back through my files. Reading through the list of the many funerals I’ve conducted through the years, two stood out and made me realize something about the grace of God.
The first was a service in early 2002 for a man I had never met. His grandson, Chris, was six years old at the time. Although I hadn’t had any relationship with the man, Chris and his grandmother started attending our church soon after the funeral. Indeed, Chris then grew up in our church and has been a constant blessing to everyone.
Moreover, when his grandmother passed away, he even became a part of my family and for the last nine years has been the oldest of our four children. God gave us this precious son because of a funeral I conducted for a man I did not know!
Another service I officiated took place in the spring of 2003 in a house I had never visited and among a family I had not known. That day I met the man’s two-year-old grandson, Miguel.
Years later, Miguel started attending our church with his sister and grandmother. Today he is the children’s minister with our congregation and studying to become a pastor.
I am humbled and amazed that the Lord would use simple acts of obedience to do such amazing things.
I also wonder just how many times I’ve been deprived of incredible blessings because of simple acts of disobedience. How many times have I turned down opportunities to minister to those I don’t know or don’t find important enough to care about?
How many blessings could I have reaped decades later if I’d only been obedient?
What could He do with your obedience?
Marc Daniels is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Avondale, where he has served since September 2001.