Not in vain, that is the motivation

Acts of Faith column by Mark Burch who is the senior pastor at Maple Ridge Baptist Church

  • Jan. 28, 2012 6:00 p.m.
Not in vain, that is the motivation

Winston Churchill is one of recent history’s most quotable leaders.

His stinging sense of humor, quick-wit, and sharp tongue are legendary.

One of my favorite stories was when a certain Bessie Braddock self-righteously rebuked Churchill, saying: “Sir, you are drunk.”

To which Churchill retorted: “Madam, you are ugly, and in the morning, I shall be sober.”

Churchill had the ability to lift the eyes of Britain to imagine victory, when every other voice was predicting defeat.

He famously declared:

“We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and the oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

One of his best known ‘sound-bites’ was his simplistic, yet incessant, cry:  “Never give up.  Never, never, never, never.”

The other morning, Churchill came to mind as I read the words of Jesus. Luke 18 opens with these words:  “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”  (Luke 18:1.)

A widow, who had suffered some injustice, kept pounding on the door of the local judge until he finally relented of his apathy, took up her case, and justice was satisfied.

Jesus’ lesson?

And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? (Luke 18:7.)

What obstacle is standing in your path?

What impossibility seems too unlikely to overcome?

Have you taken it to God in prayer?

But here’s the catch. Jesus says, “Always pray and never give up.”

So often in my experience, I want the immediate answer from God.  I want to pray in the morning and have the answer by afternoon.

Yet Jesus’ challenge is “never give up.”

I don’t know if the emotions a pastor faces are all that different from men in other vocations, but a common thread among my ministry friends, is the on-going struggle with discouragement.  There seems to be so much ‘bad’ in the world, and so little of encouragement.

Yet Jesus would be the “Churchillian-voice” in our ears – “Never give up.  Never give up. Never give up.”

In, 1 Corinthians:  “… be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Not in vain. That is a motivation that keeps us going in the face of difficult days.

I meet each week for prayer with a group of brothers who are concerned for God’s work in our community.

Our encouragement?  Jesus’ words:  Never give up.

What does God have in store for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows?

What would His desire for marriages and families be?

How would our lives be impacted with His good plans for our flourishing?

What would it be like to see a community living in harmony with each other and our loving creator God?

What would our community look like if life was as it should be?

As Jesus Christ is exalted in this place, what transformation do we dream of?

These are things we pray about.

These are concerns we all share.

So as we seek to make this community a better place to call home – lets not give up crying out to God.

In His time, He hears, He answers, He moves.

Never give up.

Mark Burch is senior pastor at Maple Ridge Baptist Church.