by Mark Overstreet
Not long ago, I boarded a flight headed to the other side of the world. I have the honor of serving strategic partnerships with local leaders and translation organizations to make the Word of God available to people groups who have no access to scriptures and are far away from reliable gospel witness.
In the hurry of travel, the stress of planning and work, and the desire to get some much-needed sleep, I was ready to settle down, unplug, and quietly fade away. I wanted rest, but God had another lesson in mind. Instead of pausing his plans, God was preparing to improve my commute.
Earlier, I had been meditating on Isaiah 45, God’s word to Cyrus, ancient king of Persia. In the right time, God promises he would raise up an unbelieving monarch to accomplish the mission (Isa. 45:5-6):
I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other.
As I read those words in my devotion, I asked God for the chance to speak, to show, and to serve, so others could see the love and light of God. I reflected on the grace that turns the heart of Cyrus so the world could know God. His mission consumes all of creation. He doesn’t wait until the ministry meetings begin to start working. He works day and night, so the good news can go forward.
I was praying and thinking about the week ahead, but God had different plans. I wanted to sleep, and as I reflected on God’s words to Cyrus, I wondered how he might make the day more about him and less about smaller things. In the moments that followed, he reminded me of the privilege we have to participate in his great plan.
We need to hear the word, and we need to express our desire to obey and follow his instructions. Instead of hiding away from others, God invites us to be a great part of the redemptive plan. Just as with Isaiah, God’s work often begins in an encounter with the Creator and his word. In order to serve as witnesses to the gospel, we need to hear from above. Listen to God’s word and understand that from those stories come the answer to all the world’s concerns and problems.
Are you listening to the word?
Instead of looking for the chance to follow, I had been looking for a place to sleep. Awakened by God’s word from Isaiah, God led me to look for opportunities, and I heard him loud and clear. I prayed for the chance to be a light. Let’s begin in the word, and let’s ask for the chance to serve his purposes, wherever we are.
In addition to looking prayerfully at the word, we need to ask for vision—the eyes and ears to see and hear where he is calling us to serve. Whether it’s sharing the gospel or sharing the armrest, we have the opportunity to display the love of Christ to a world that needs him.
Additionally, as we look for opportunities, it can be tough to stay faithful without the support of friends. We are built for community. Why not grab a few friends and commit to praying for one another and sharing experiences? May I suggest this week that we find a friend who can share with us, building accountability and the expectation that God will hear and answer our prayers to be witnesses?
On that flight, God opened the door for me to share with Matthew, a business traveler who had no understanding of the gospel and no hope in his life. Although he’d been raised in church, he didn’t understand the language, the fancy words, the complex songs, the cliques of friends—it was all Latin to him.
Religion was for the weak.
Over that flight, we had some long conversations. We discussed his life, the areas that needed repair, the things that were broken. We talked about history, God’s past, and the future ahead for all things. He asked about Jesus, and we discussed the role he served in creation. We agreed that Jesus could offer him the life he needed.
As we parted, I prayed with him, and he committed to find his time to listen to the word, and seek a community where he could hear and understand God’s hope in Jesus. He committed to pray. He knew only God could deliver him. Our time and conversation refreshed my soul. Matthew departed understanding Jesus was for the weak.
Over the course of the next days, I reflected on God’s faithfulness to awaken me to hear and see his plans for that flight. With each passing day, may we try, speak, smile, serve, and share the love of Christ with a world in need—and let’s start with the seat next door.
He doesn’t wait for us to witness at the destination. He doesn’t need for the leaders to come together to move. He calls us to demonstrate his love to a world filled with needs only the gospel can remedy. The world is full of emptiness, and only his servants can offer the One who can fill that void.
You want your life to be full? Don’t waste your flights. Look around today and ask God where He would have you demonstrate the love and hope that only God can deliver. Don’t put off the witness of Christ as you go between place to place, at frenzied pace. Show the love of Christ in the small, the quiet, the unexpected.
Don’t wait for your next planned meeting, but speak his name in the short interactions, simple conversations, serving others before self. Then, you’ll see a life lived on that mission could change someone’s life forever. Look for the chance to connect in humility and share the hope of the world. Someone did that for you. Don’t waste your flight.
Mark M. Overstreet (@moverstreet) is Founding Partner/CEO with SRV International. Mark serves fourth world cultures in leadership development and community transformation. Through worldview analysis, communication strategy, and contextualization, he co-labors with global organizations in areas including healthy partnerships, orality, mission, program architecture, strategy, and evaluation.