One of my favorite stories was told to our group when I was studying to be a lay speaker. The story was about a Native American boy who was put through the rites of passage to become an adult. He was tested in many skills – hunting, fishing, running, and so on. His final test was being left in the dark woods in the middle of the night to remain there until daybreak, alone.
He spent a fearful night in the dark and cold. Every sound and movement was terrifying, but he stayed where he was supposed to be. As the darkness faded to gray with the pre-dawn light he saw something not far from him that he did not recognize. A little frightened at first, he kept his eyes on the figure until the light increased enough to see what it was. It was his father who had stood near him the entire time.
Today’s passage is a large portion of “The Great Commission.” What are Jesus’ instructions? What is the assurance?
This is one of the last things Jesus spoke to his disciples. Before ascending into heaven Christ gives this commission, or the authority for ministry. Make disciples of all people. Teach them also to spread the good news. Baptize them so that they know they are forgiven, and that they may be reminded that they too should be in ministry.
And the final assurance is that Jesus will be with us always. What a profound statement and what a profound promise. These are the words that have comforted me and sustained me for years and years. These are the words I trusted when I entered ministry and the words I lean on when ministry gets tough.
We are not alone. And not only do we have a companion and helper, we have the greatest and most wonderful of companions and helpers. With Christ at our side we can endure anything.
After we have readied ourselves for ministry, after we trust that God will provide for our ministry, we must respond by doing ministry. And as we respond by doing ministry, we must rest in the assurance of Christ’s constant presence.
DAILY CHALLENGE: What can remind you of the eternal presence of Jesus?