And I Heard the Voice of the Lord Saying,
“Whom Shall I Send and Who Will Go for Us?” –Isaiah 6:8a
Whom shall I send and who will go (Isa 6:8)??? There is a lost and helpless world of souls (Mt 9:36) in our (Ge 1:26) midst–a flock of confused sheep (Mark 6:34) being led astray (Jer 1:23), a great multitude of spirits crushed by the weight of empty promises (1 John 1:2), a myriad of broken hearts shattered by the daily lies subtly whispered by the well-disguised (2 Co 11:14) prince of this world (Mt 12:24). I ache that they would know me (John 17:3) and long for their salvation and subsequent joy (1 Ti 2:4)….for the day their eyes are unblinded and hearts are unveiled (Col 1:26-27) to a glorious truth that far surpasses the monotonous bore and tiring chase after empty wells (Jer 2:17) that so typifies this earth.
I have chosen a people (Eph 1:11) for myself, a people broken and wounded (La 2:11), a people weak and helpless (Mark 6:34), a people deeply loved and immeasurably precious to me (Hos 2:19-20). I have chosen a people after my own heart (Ps 119:36). And I have chosen to bless the nations through them (Ge 12:2-3).
My selection was far from arbitrary. From eternity past (Eph 1:4), I have designed each and every part of their character and nature (Ps 139:15) such that they would interact with one another and with the world in such a way as to breed a sort of glorious frustration. I have specified the time and location of their dwelling–intentionally and deliberatly (Acts 17:26). I began training (Psalm 18:32-34) and pruning them (John 15:2)–through painful trials and difficult cirumstances such that they would learn to cling to me for better or worse with an end goal not of perfection, but of defaulting to Jesus in all things. I wanted it to be hard (2 Co 11:24-29).
I tested them (Deut 8:16) through heartache and sorrow, depriving them of their beloved and enslaving addictions and obsessions (Isa 2:8) and allowed them to go through darkness and depression (Ps 88:3-7)–though I shed tears (John 11:35) over their confusion and frustration. I wrestled with their paradigms (Acts 10:13-16) and challenged their cultural presumptions and social norms. I humbled them and took away their things–the gifts I so long to lavish upon them (Matt 7:11), but am which have such tendency to turn their eyes away from me and on to the things (Hos 3:6; Ro 1:25) which hold them in bondage. I wanted to see if they really loved me more (Deut 13:3); if their hearts would back up the simple lip service I’m so used to (Isa 29:13); if their love was evidenced by action (1 John 5:3).
And they emerged stronger than gold (Mal 3:3-4). They gave up opportunities for financial, social, and practical advancement; they traded their lowly and temporary aspirations and dreams for eternal bliss yet to come (Ro 8:18). They chose joy over happiness; they would rather give than receive (Acts 20:35); and they preferred truth to their comfort. They are imperfect, but untouchable (Phil 4:13)–they are strong and fearless (1 John 4:18) come what may (Ps 112:7). I wanted it to be hard, not because I didn’t love, them, but because I loved them with a sort of divine ferocity which only a father can know (He 12:7). I set before them the impossible, so that every success and achievement would point upward (Mt 19:26).
I built an army. I equiped and prepared them (Ps 18:32-35) for battle, and they are ready. Not because they are strong, but because I am (Ps 80:17). And my very heart lies within each one of them. For my heart is that more would know me (John 17:24-26) and for more to know me, they must hear about me (Ro 10:13-15), and someone has to tell them (Ro 10:16). I see my heart within a people who know what it is to be dead (Eph 2:1) and what it is to be alive and ache (Ro 10:1) that more would know the fullness of life which is in Jesus (John 10:10) alone. I know that they have my heart because they have a love that is greater than their own lives (John 15:12) and would lay them down at the chance that even a single one might come to know me (John 15:13).
It brings me much joy to proudly claim them as my own (Rev 21:3) and delightfully (Zeph 3:17) exclaim this day, “Well done good and faithful servants! (Mt 21:22) Welcome to the begining of a new chaper (Ec 3:1-8)!”
Today (He 3:7), 79 people will leave their homes–their friends, their families, their jobs– in joyful and willing obedience to the call of a Holy and loving God who has planned something exponentially deeper, richer, and fuller than they could have ever imagined. Today 39 people will pick up and travel 200 miles and 40 more will pack up and travel 620 miles away. Today I will lose some of my closest friends and say goodbye to people who have poured out their lives for me and I’m going to miss them like crazy. And yet–nothing could give me greater satisfaction than seeing them go– because God’s economics (Pro 11:24) are so brilliantly and uniquely designed, yet so faithfully consistent: Each and every time his disciples are sacrificially obedient, he generously and abundantly provides more than they need, and often more than they began with–it will be such a joy to see how many more people love Jesus even a year from now. Today Vine Church will give birth to 2 new church plants in Bowling Green, Kentucky and State College, Pennsylvania in response to Jesus’ call to “Go and Make Disciples of All Nations” (Mt 28:19). Souls are at stake and there can be no better reward than getting to be a part of His rescue and redemption. Bowling Green, Ky and State College, PA are blessed beyond comprehension–Because Rock Hills and Cedar Heights have not been built on clever ideas or human intuition, but on the very spirit of God himself (1 Co 2:5).