Doing Stuff For God

By Jim Taylor, pastor missionary in Africa—and my friend

I’ve never done very much for God.

I’ve been walking with him for forty-some years now, but there are very few things I’ve ever done for him. I mostly did whatever turned up in front of me. I never made a plan and worked to get it accomplished. Ever.

The Lord got ahold of me in a Pentecostal tent meeting on an Indian reservation. I didn’t want to be there but through circumstances beyond my control, there I was. And he captured me.

I wasn’t looking for him. In fact, I’d spent most of my life avoiding him. I stayed away from buildings where I thought he hung out. I refused to be around people that seemed to like him. I especially stayed away from preachers.

Yet somehow Jesus tracked me down and grabbed me.

I didn’t want to be a preacher. I never set out to be one. It’s just that I found myself talking to people about how good God was to me. And because of that, somehow I ended up running a coffee house during the Jesus People Movement, even though I was just a young learner still feeling my way along.

And lots of young people came to Jesus!

I never set out to lead a church. My wife and I had a small Bible study in our home that grew into weekly meetings big enough we had to a rent a building. That grew into regular meetings and became a church! I had no idea what was happening. It was like I was just along for the ride.

After several years I was asked to move to another part of the state and assume leadership of a young church there. It wasn’t something I desired or asked for or worked for. It just happened. And the truth is, I had no clue what to do or how to do it. But I walked through the open door wondering what the Lord was doing and figuring he would help me.

Most of my life walking with the Lord has been like that. I haven’t planned it. We’d just take one step at a time, and God would lead us in a direction I never saw coming. He’d smile at me and say something like, “If you’re going with me, we’re heading another way.” Usually it wasn’t the way I’d have chosen.

I wasn’t always happy going God’s way. Nope. Not at all.  Sometimes I got frustrated and angry. And yelled at God. Yet incredibly, my bad attitude never changed his mind!

More than once I went off on my own. The Lord, well, he’d just smile. And when I came crawling back scratched up and bleeding, he’d pick me up, love on me and heal my wounds.

I never could fully understand that. I mean, if someone treated me that way, I’d have kicked their ungrateful butt out the door. But Jesus held me tight.

One day a light came on, and I realized it was his grace! Funny thing, he never punished me when I chose to go my own way. The way I chose often punished me, but him? Never. Returning to him, he’d accept me and heal me. Never were there any lectures. He never bawled me out or pointed out my errors. He just loved me. And he keeps loving me.

So you see, I’ve never done much of anything for God. He’s done it all for me!

A Rabbi friend once told me he was impressed with my leadership skills. I tried to explain to him that I have none. I’ve never made an effort to figure out who should be where doing what. All I did was ask Jesus to help and then walked along, trying to do what I saw him doing or do what he told me to do. Most of the stuff I’ve done? I couldn’t have made it happen in a hundred years! All I’ve done was to follow his lead.

Our move to Africa and joining Iris Ministries wasn’t something we set out to do. It was simply something God showed us we could do, should do, and we’ve never looked back. We couldn’t have planned it!

Never had Africa been on our radar, well, other than a great place to hunt. But living in Africa? Are you kiddin’ me? In fact, when we were first married, Twyla told the Lord that she would go anyplace he asked us to go—except Africa! Ha! Don’t try to tell me Jesus doesn’t have a sense of humor.

We didn’t move to Africa because we have a great understanding of how to change the people here for the better. I arrived feeling totally inadequate. I still do. I don’t have easy answers to the incredibly difficult situations we face daily. I don’t have a ministry plan to alter radically the way things are here. We just walk with Jesus and love whoever he sets in front of us. We do whatever he puts in our path to do.

Sometimes we have to stop and sort things out, because there are so many needs here, but he always seems to show us the direction he is going, and we make every effort to follow him.

Yes, sometimes ministry here overwhelms us, and we could burn out trying to fix everything. But Jesus hasn’t told us to do that. We aren’t fixers. We’re just helpers. Following Jesus. Very often imperfectly. Sometimes with uncertainty. But always relying on his love and mercy and grace.

If anything gets done, it’s out of the power of his presence in our lives. He gets all the credit. Yes, even the credit for our projects with goats.

He is amazing! Blessings to you all! Walk with him.

Jim & Twyla Taylor
Ministerio Arco-Iris
CP #275 Praia de Wimbe
Pemba, Cabo Delgado
Mozambique, Africa

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