For several years our church has had a puppet ministry. In the beginning it was a great opportunity for our church and well received by our congregation and other churches inviting us in. But as time went by the luster of puppet entertainment began to wane, both on leadership and youth commitment. So the puppets made their way into a closet and there they’ve stayed for a few years, occasionally making their way onto the scene of a Vacation Bible School or other youth event, but for the most part they set perched on their posts waiting for an opportunity to serve…. Hmmm… sound familiar?
I’ve watched many Christians do the same. They start out all gung ho and then little by little, their labor for the Lord becomes more burden than blessing and they begin to let one thing after another fall by the wayside until they find themselves sitting in the church, moving back one row, and then another, until they find themselves out in the vestibule (entryway) where they make the executive decision that it’s better to go home and stop taking up space.
As I walked past the puppet closet at our Church Sunday after Sunday, I could almost hear those little critters calling my name.. “Shari! We’re still waiting to tell someone about Jesus, but we can’t do it without your help!” Even as I type those words I tear up… I’m serious! I know I’m a sap! But the fact of the matter is these blessed tools of the ministry are just like us. If we’re not filled with the Spirit of God, and used in His service we stiffen up become less and less viable for the Kingdom’s use.
2 Chronicles 30:8 ~ Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the Lord your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you.
The Stiffnecked Saint
We have a carnal nature within ourselves to become rigid (stiffnecked) when things don’t just flow along with ease and be rest assured they likely won’t in the ministry, especially when more than one person is involved. Seldom ever do two people agree about everything; throw 50-100 into the mix and you’ve got issues. If you’re not careful you’ll find yourself on a shelf in the closet and the ministry going on without you which is the equivalency of someone else getting your blessings. I’ve never handled that very well… I’m like Elisha… give me two blessin’s Lord!
A Surrendered Saint
Yielding to God is about as popular as popular as the brussel sprout line in the school cafeteria, because with yielding is the expectation of producing something. When a garden yields a good harvest it’s because the farmer put TLC into the production. A surrendered saint knows that when you allow the Holy Spirit to begin working in your life there’s going to be some yielding using both definitions. To yield, as in to stop doing things your way, and to yield as in to produce fruit for the Kingdom! The puppet is controlled completely by the puppeteer, imagine what a site a puppet show would be if the puppeteer was continually having to fight with the puppet to get it to move correctly. No one would want to see that show… well, I’ve seen Christians go kicking and screaming all the way into the will of God. It’s not a very good show either.
A Serving Saint
The puppets in the closet are useless unless they’re in the hands of the puppeteer, and it’s then that they become a sanctified minister of the gospel. It’s the same with us, we’re nothing without the Holy Spirit leading us and guiding us to say and do the right things. As sanctified (set apart) believers we have the ability to bring life to another human being by allowing the Holy Spirit to use us as the mouthpiece for the gospel. How we do that depends on our talents. Some do it in song, some do it in preaching and teaching, some do it in the silence of a prayer closet with just them and God, and crazy people like me do with critters and crazy antics. But to have the opportunity to be involved in an eternal purpose of the Lord requires a little loosening up. He may use you stiff, but you’ll probably break.