Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Futility of Man

I've been feeling overwhelmed this week. Getting the hospital open is no small task. Important governmental officials are coming to see the progress next week (the regional commissioner, analogous to a state governor in the States, and his formidable entourage). Meanwhile my time is taken up with such mundane tasks as building 3 tables and 6 chairs (because we don't have any), moving a huge pile of bricks out of the patient waiting area, and writing employee contracts.

I knew from the beginning that I'm not really up to the task—that if it is to get done then God will have to do it. But now I'm really experiencing the futility of man. There is so much more to do than I can do myself. Even with a large team (which I do not have at this point) I would still be overwhelmed with the enormity of the task. Even just making my to do list is a big job.

I am encouraged this morning by one of those psalms that can seem so depressing at times. (Don't worry, I'm not depressed—just daunted). In Psalm 89: 47-48 the psalmist addresses the Father:

     "Remember how short my life is; remember that you created all of us mortal!
     Who can live and never die? How can human beings keep themselves from the grave?"

I identify with that this morning. I don't have enough days in my life (not to mention energy or freedom from distraction) to get done what needs to be done. One of my main tasks is to recruit and train workers for hospital, but so far I have only found one and we haven't really done any training yet. But the slow progress in that department brings me to an important point:

Ministry is about people, not progress or projects. People embody eternal souls. In a hundred or so years, both this hospital and this children's home will mostly likely be rubble. But these staff, these patients, and these children will still exist (albeit in different material circumstances). My task here is much bigger than just the practical nuts and bolts of getting a hospital up and running. I'm actively trying to be people-focused instead of institution-focused. I am especially focused on mentoring the hospital staff. This is about investing in the destiny of eternal souls—children of God created in His own image! Has he entrusted me with such tremendous responsibility? Indeed he has. When I think of that: talk about coming up hard against the futility of man!

I am NOT up to that task! But I am reminded that all He requires of me, He provides. The work is not mine but His. Really I'm just along for the ride—for how He will use the journey to shape my life and my family and for other reasons that I cannot hope to see. But He does.

In the remainder of Psalm 89, the psalmist, after lamenting his impotence, in effect reminds God: “Don't forget who you are!” Like Abraham pleading on behalf of a few hypothetical righteous Sodomites, like Habakkuk lamenting the problem of evil in Israel, like Paul assuring the Philippians that Christ will finish what He started (1:6), the psalmist declaims (my paraphrase): “God, You are who You are. The battle belongs to You.”

I say the same this morning. The battle belongs to Jesus. He has called me to come alongside a few of his sheep and encourage them toward Him. That's all I need to do. Hospitals and tables and bricks and government officials are all just details. I need not be anxious over them.

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