On your Mark
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. (Mark 1:14, NIV)
I graduated from college at the age of 20 with a call to full-time vocational ministry. One problem! Nobody wanted to hire me on a church staff or call me as pastor. So, I decided to go to seminary for three more years.
Some older believers counseled me: “Don’t do that. Jesus is coming soon and you need to be out winning people to the Lord, not going for more schooling.” I didn’t really know enough to answer them well, but the way I saw it, if Jesus would wait until He was 30 years of age to begin His public ministry, I could wait until I was 24!
Just as Esther came to the kingdom “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14), and Jesus came in “the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4, KJV), so also you are alive for a reason at this time on planet Earth (Psalm 139).
Mark tells us that Jesus launched His public ministry when four things had happened: (1) John the Baptist’s preaching had created a public movement of awareness and expectancy, (2) Jesus had been baptized and (3) tested, and (4) John had been imprisoned.
Nothing ever happens automatically in life. There are wheels within wheels, purposes within purposes. God is always setting out the building blocks of our lives in a precise manner — just as happened with Jesus.
As a young person, I got frustrated several times when the Lord seemingly had not answered my prayers. I wanted some things God evidently did not want for me. Looking back, I realize if I had gotten what I wanted when I wanted it, my life would have been far less productive for the Lord.
If I were Jesus, I might have wanted to skip some of the “hoops” — the quiet 30 years of waiting and learning the trade of a carpenter/mason, along with the temptation in the wilderness. It must have been difficult for Jesus to wait until the right time for His ministry to begin. Likewise, it’s difficult for us to be patient while waiting for the perfect timing of God’s will to unfold in our lives.
But, like Jesus, you must not become impatient with the data of your own life. Sure, we want everything to happen today. Many times I’ve wanted to do things without self-examination, repentance and personal inside cleaning. I’ve wanted to avoid trial and temptation, and certainly all dangerous circumstances. As the saying goes, “I want it and I want it now!”
Had I been Jesus, would I have begun my ministry following the imprisonment of John? That doesn’t look like a good or comfortable time to me! The same forces that silenced John surely threatened to silence Jesus as well.
At the very worst of times with John imprisoned, Jesus appears bringing good news. Good news means so much more when all around there’s bad news.
God has a plan for your life! His design is to help you, shape you, guide you, and make of you what you can never become on your own. God’s good news never ends for those who follow Jesus!
GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.
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