Will You Volunteer for God's Service?
Near the end of World War II, a plane carrying 24 members of the U.S. military crashed into the dense New Guinea jungle. Only three survived and they were badly hurt— soon suffering from gangrene and starvation. Here they were stranded deep in a jungle valley known for the cannibal tribes who lived there.
A daring rescue attempt would need to be made, which did indeed succeed.
The army tapped a special battalion of 66 men, trained as a parachute unit. Their battalion leader was told to recruit 10 volunteers from his unit, including two medics, to parachute into that dense jungle and guide the survivors out.
It was dangerous assignment. When their lieutenant colonel stood before his men and told them what had happened, he informed them that he needed 10 volunteers to form a rescue squad. But then he gave them an honest portrayal of what they were going to encounter.
First, he said, the area they’d be jumping into was marked “unknown” on the map; it was unchartered territory. Secondly, he told them the jungle valley was so thick that it would be the worst possible drop zone; they might not get past the trees. Third, if they survived the jump, the tribes who lived in that valley could prove hostile and life-threatening.
When he finished, he paused and then asked for volunteers—and all 66 men stepped forward.
How’s that for a recruiting strategy?
Life will be difficult, there won’t be much rest along the way, the natives will be hostile to your message, but people in that valley need rescuing!
According to Luke’s Gospel account, this happens to be the recruiting plan for 72 men who have just been appointed to risk their lives and their fortunes for the sake of the gospel.
But before they take off on their rescue mission, Jesus gives them an honest portrayal of the mission.
Volunteering for God means accepting His personal assignment.
Jesus begins His teaching by encouraging them both in their purpose and destination. “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him” (Luke 10:1a).
This word appointed can describe someone being chosen to hold an office. We speak today of someone being “appointed” by the president of the United States for a cabinet position or to the Supreme Court.
Jesus didn’t hand these men a blank map and tell them, “Go out somewhere and talk to someone and try your best and see what happens.” He specifically appointed these men to each of their offices— their harvest fields—and He chose them intentionally.
My friend, your life is equally appointed. A conversation you have with a neighbor as you step out to check your mailbox, or a coworker you share the elevator with, or the classmate you sit next to in the library is your harvest field.
Jesus is challenging us to think of every personal interaction we have not as accidents, but divine appointments.
You have been divinely appointed for every divine appointment in your life.
There are no “chance encounters.” Behind the scenes, God is providentially scheduling our schedule, and bringing us, every day, into the harvest field He specifically chose for us.
Volunteering for God means leaving our personal comfort zones.
Jesus draws on an analogy that is often used in the Bible, comparing believers to sheep living in a secular world filled with wolves. He tells the 72 men: “Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves” (Luke 10:3).
Sheep are naturally fearful, skittish, and paranoid. It is difficult for sheep to be comfortable or relax. The bark of a dog nearby, or the howl of a wolf in the distance will keep the sheep on their feet and ready to run.
Jesus promises that these volunteers will be sent out as “lambs” in the midst of wolves. A lamb is even less likely to survive the dangers around them.
I love how transparent Jesus is with these men. He doesn’t want to trick them into signing up for something they didn’t understand. He wanted them fully aware of the dangers they faced and the risks they took by representing Him in a world of antagonists and unbelievers.
At its center, however, the Lord’s warning is equally encouraging. The words Jesus wanted these men to focus on weren’t the words about wolves, but the promise: “I am sending you.” In other words, “You will not be alone.”
Beloved, the more we accept our defenselessness, the more dependent we become on our Good Shepherd, who guides His little lambs through the valleys of life while surrounded by vicious wolves.
These disciples will know that whether they live or die, whether they minister in safety or danger, it will be the divine appointment of Christ. Nothing can touch them without the permission of their sending Agent! In fact, these men don’t realize it yet, but Jesus will demonstrate what it looks like to be a persecuted lamb, as He dies on the cross to defeat death forever.
Striving in the harvest field Jesus appointed for you won’t be easy. It won’t necessarily make you comfortable; if anything, it will make you more reliant on the Lord for your safety.
And who could be better than Him in determining your steps and guiding your path in life today—and every day?
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