Fireworks are never boring! Everybody loves a great fireworks display but after the smoke has cleared the world remains pretty much unchanged. It seems to me that too much of our effort in presenting the life changing Good News of Jesus, is expended on ‘fireworks’.
I have been pondering the idea of mining as an analogy for ministry. Many might subscribe to the ‘big bang’ theory of evangelism. Programs are designed, movies are made, conferences are held and all these things are good, but when the smoke clears little changes in our neighbourhood, community, or even our own lives. The dynamic power of the ‘big bang’ is not properly directed. Its power is dissipated! No miner would place his stick of TNT on the surface of the ground and light the fuse. The result would be a great deal of noise and dust but no precious minerals would be uncovered. No the miner familiarises himself with the area. He examines for the likeliest spot and begins to patiently drill. This work is both figuratively and literally boring. These hours of boring pass unheralded yet the final result far surpasses a superficial fireworks show!
Like all analogies this mining one falls short. People are not fields of minerals waiting to be blasted. The analogy is less applicable to the people we seek than to ourselves. We love the fireworks and a good display will bring us the attention and ‘back pats’ we crave. These displays are seen as success but are seldom really successful. When the ‘big bang’ is successful it is because, hidden away, unnoticed, someone has been doing the boring work. Someone has done the unglamorous work of building relationships, of being vulnerable and encouraging vulnerability. Through loving they have cracked open the hardened hearts so that the dynamic power could make a real difference.
I tire of people who spend their energy railing about getting prayer back in school or keeping Christ in Christmas. These seem to me to be superficialities. School prayer may have only inoculated children from coming down with a real case of spirituality. I believe that as long as there are exams there will be prayer in schools! What does excite me is to see people building relationships, loving people, and praying that the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit will work in peoples’ lives. It may look boring but the payoff can be quite spectacular!
On another note; I have been really impressed by the way Canada (and especially Saint John) has welcomed refugees. We see an enormous will to help and to tackle a mega-problem. This will has found a way and it is very impressive. Hundreds have settled into new homes in our community! Over the last few months I have been praying with a friend who has been on a list for housing for years. He suffers from a variety of mental illnesses including depression. Living in his single room with shared bathroom and kitchen, which costs over 80% of his income, deepens his depression. For some time I have worried for him and I wish our society could exert the same will to help people like my friend. I know some people complain about helping refugees while we have daunting problems at home but I am not one of those. The same generosity which welcomes new comers is the solution for my friend. This is not “an either or proposition” it is a “both and”. We have demonstrated the old adage “Where there is a will there is a way.” I can only surmise that, to this point, we lack the will to help the mentally ill.