“Just a beginning?” A guest post by Ron Bailey

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Earlier this year, Ron Bailey posted a reflection on our work for God’s Kingdom HERE. Here it is in full, with Ron’s kind permission.

”Just a beginning…?

Frequently in my Bible reading I am surprised by a word I hadn’t noticed previously. It happened again this morning. How well do I know the story of Samson? Not as well as I thought!

The angel of Jehovah explains to Manoah the purpose of Samson’s birth. Manoah is clearly a godly Israelite ready to believe what God speaks to him. He is a praying man and one who is ready to take instructions. Samson was richly blessed in God’s choice for his father and mother. The angel describes the mission of the promised child. “For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” (Judges 13.5 NKJV)

In other words, he is to be a Nazirite from conception to the grave; wholly given over to the will of God. Surely an entire life is sufficient to accomplish the purpose of God? The word I had never noticed previously is the simple word ‘begin’. The angel explained that Samson’s mission was to begin something for God. There was no word here of Samson completing the mission only of his need to begin it. Sometimes God commissions a man or woman to begin an enterprise without promising that they will complete it. Samson was to be such a man. His life was to begin something that would be completed by another. That is a humbling commission. Here’s another.

King David had a vision for a temple that would do justice to the glory of God. It was in his heart. He was given the plans of the Temple. His conquests provided the resources to build the temple. And then, it seems, he received the prophetic word, through Nathan, to begin the process. The vision, the passion, the design, the physical resources were all due to David and yet we refer to this ‘exceedingly magnificent’ building as ‘Solomon’s Temple’. A second word came to David that was a fatal blow to his soaring aspirations. Another was to build the temple; his son Solomon. It’s a measure of the greatness of David that he embraced this new word eagerly with not a single complaint. In the case of David his previous behaviour had disqualified him from this unique role, but his contribution to the ‘beginning’ made the Temple possible. It will not always be some personal disqualification, sometimes it will not be disqualification at all but simply the purpose of God to begin with one servant and to complete the mission with another. Paul must sow and Apollos must water.

It may be a humbling experience to realise that what we conceived as our ‘great life work’ will be completed by another but is also a source of great comfort. The world doesn’t depend on me after all. That great work may not depend on me either. It is simply that God frequently completes through one what he has begun through another. Is that a disappointment or a relief? I suspect it depends on our disposition. Paul would lay the foundation but another must build upon it. How he builds is his responsibility, not Paul’s.

“For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption;” (Acts 13.36 NKJV).

For the servant of God ‘Let it go’ is not the squalid temper tantrum of a Disney character but a wise counsel.

There is wiser, if sombre, counsel in Ecclesiastes: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” (Ecclesiastes 9.10 NKJV).

While it is ‘within reach of your hand’ give it all you’ve got, afterwards let it rest on the bosom of the one who watches over all his works…and his workers.

“. . . for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1.12 KJV).

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