I never thought I would be in full-time ministry.
To be honest I have wrestled with what it looks like in our day to be a full-time minister of the Gospel. I have sought the Scriptures for clues and insights as to what is the essence and heartbeat of someone who has given their life to make Jesus known and to reconcile people back unto God. And then this famous text, which I have read maybe a hundred times, leapt off the page and revealed to me the heartbeat of a true son or daughter of God. Though it may be hard for many of us to identify with the Apostle Paul since for many he has been deified, I feel God’s invitation to embrace what is possible when a life is surrendered to Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit. And this, I believe, is the secret to an effective man or woman of God.
Hard pressed. HARD pressed. Paul is saying he is like a Christian panini sandwich being pressed on either side of his soul. There is a part of him that aches and longs to simply be with Jesus. He welcomes the thought of death without fear because it means being with Jesus face to face. He is not being fatalistic or dark, he is a man who is no longer afraid of death because he knows as soon as he departs from this earth he will be with the One whom his soul loves. It consumes his thoughts in the morning and when he goes to sleep at night. This desire for Jesus is not something he is “supposed” to feel, it is a deep ache in his soul that wears on him. Hard pressed.
Yet on the other side he acknowledges that his fruitful ministry among the believers is so rewarding that it too presses on him. His life in the flesh, his ministry, is producing fruit among the believers and this brings Paul great joy! This desire also is so strong that it presses on him.
And here we get a glimpse into the man of God’s heart, we see what makes him tick. We discover that behind his fruitful ministry is a heart that first and foremost, above all things, longs to simply be with Jesus. Yet second, not far behind his desire to be with Jesus is the joy and fulfillment that he feels as his ministry causes other believers to experience “progress and joy in the faith” (v25).
Compare this to many of us today who are hard pressed by finances, circumstances or difficult relationships. We feel pressed by the pressures of life and cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. Because of our many cares it is hard to imagine our lives bound by an aching love for God and a passion to see people grow in their faith but this is God’s great vision for those who desire to leave His mark on the world.
Regardless of where you are today, begin to pray and ask God to form this heart in you.