even as i sleep

Being a missionary can be discouraging at times. Often one can begin to wonder, “Are the things I am doing making a difference? Are the conversations I’m having with so-and-so pointing them to Jesus at all?” These questions are difficult when real effort is met with change too slight to even notice at times. It can become downright depressing in the face of so much brokenness in our world.

A few years back I went with a group to help bring the healing of Jesus to the vast pain of the people of Guatemala. I remember standing in the street of this village called Buena Vista, which means “good view” in espanol. It is aptly named, since it is a village on a mountain top with a stunning view over the entirety of Guatemala City. I stood there holding a tiny baby boy, hair dark as night with breathtaking blue eyes, and I almost broke down. I looked out over the city and I just couldn’t imagine the sum of the pain and despair my eyes were fixed on. The prostitutes with no way out. The drug users and dealers. The abandoned orphans. People living in the city dump. I knew they were there because I had seen them all week. “It’s too much Jesus…there is just too much hurt down there. What good is all this we are doing against so much bad–what does it matter.”

Quietly, but forcefully, Jesus said, “Brandon, look at that little boy you are holding–look him in the eyes.” I wiped tears from my cheek and gazed straight at him. His blue eyes sparkled like fire and he cocked a half-smile at me. “It matters to him Brandon…it matters to him. That’s all you need to worry about right now, and you give him all the love you’ve got.”

That lesson from Guatemala has been resonating with me lately. In the midst of struggles and discouragement in ministry, I find comfort in the fact that Jesus said the gates of hell will not prevail against His church. The Bible says that the Kingdom of God is like a growing seed–that man sleeps and rises but it still continues to grow(Mark 4.26-32). How cool is that? When I wake up in the morning the Kingdom will have gained ground. People will have been reconciled to God. A little more brokenness will have been restored. Someone who was hungry will be full. Little by little, one by one, the healing of Jesus is reaching the ends of the earth. And not even hell can stop it.

The Gospel had humble beginnings. A handful in Jerusalem. Then Judea. And Samaria. Look where it is now! It has come to me and you, and now we are proclaiming it to others. Sometimes we plant, and sometimes we water, but you and I are not the only ones in this fight. Here I find the grace to know that every word, every prayer, every tear, and every conversation matters…down to the smallest of gestures. I find the peace to rest easy tonight, knowing that even as I sleep the Kingdom grows.

Seeds are bearing the fruit of new life. Darkness is fleeing.

A new heaven and new earth are on their way.

If you are quiet enough, you might even hear them breathing.

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