Spirit of Grace Ministries
Spirit of Grace Ministries
-- Feeding Jesus' sheep
-- Equipping His servants
-- Proclaiming His Gospel

To-do List

By Dennis Pollock


Over the years Benedicta and I have participated in many overseas missions, mostly in Africa, but also in India and the Philippines. And each mission has been a source of anxiety for me. I know I shouldn't admit to that, but I have to be honest. Preparing for the mission, purchasing the flight tickets, raising money to pay for the expenses, figuring out what I need to bring, coordinating with local pastors, and dozens of other organizational details keep me feeling like I will surely fail in something, or forget something, or make some kind of major mistake. And of course, there are the terrible travel miseries: sitting in tiny seats in coach, often in the middle of the row, and frequently experiencing long layovers, essentially going without sleep for a day or more, except in short naps here and there. And then, once we arrive at our meeting site, we can’t sleep all night due to jet lag, and we go through about a week of exhaustion. While we preach and sing in the meetings, we do not feel this jet lag, but almost as soon as we return to our hotel, the tiredness covers us like a blanket.


But I think the one thing that made me more anxious than all the rest was the issue of spiritual success. Would God bless this mission? Would people attend the meetings? Would there be many or few that would publicly respond to the gospel and come forward at the invitation to give their lives to Jesus? After all the praying and all the money spent and all the planning and organizing, would these meetings be a bust – or a success? Would I feel the anointing of the Holy Spirit when I stood on the platform to preach the gospel of Jesus and tell people about His life, death, and resurrection from the dead?


Most of our meetings have gone very well, and I give thanks to God for His grace. But while we are in the thick of things, we live under constant pressure. I enjoy the ministry, for sure, but it is not a walk in the park. And then the mission ends, and Benedicta and I eventually board our plane for the long flight home. Finally, the plane lifts off the ground and I experience a sense of joy and euphoria unlike anything I have ever had in this life. The mission has been successful. God had blessed and anointed. He brought people out to hear us, and they responded to the gospel. Throughout the meetings, I enjoyed a keen awareness that I was precisely where the Lord wanted me to be, doing what He called me to do.


And then it was over. Sometimes I have played soft music on my mp3 player, put earbuds in my ears, closed my eyes, and quietly rejoiced in the goodness of God. All was well. We had done what we set out to do, imperfectly, of course, but we had done it as best as we knew how, and God had blessed us. Now we were on our way home. God is good!


Our Earthly Exit


I sometimes wonder if we will have a similar, but greatly enhanced feeling of joy as we exit this life and are transported into the presence of our Lord. In some ways, those African missions are not so different from our entire lives on this earth. Like the African missions, we face many challenges and have numerous anxieties over the multiplicity of things that can go wrong. We want to succeed in life and please our Heavenly Father. We require a lot of money to cover our expenses; we constantly live with pressures related to our careers, families, children, and relationships. Sometimes we feel we are only a few steps away from disaster, and our only chance of avoiding a major collapse is to run as fast as we can and hope that disaster does not run faster than us and overtake us.


But as God's children through faith in His Son Jesus, we get through those scary and challenging times, year by year and decade after decade, and finally, our time comes to exit this life. If there is time, our loved ones gather around us, and we say our goodbyes. Then we close our eyes for the last time. I wonder if when we are escorted into the presence of Jesus, we experience that joyous peace I have experienced on my flights home from an African mission, only multiplied a thousand times. We have fulfilled our "life mission," not an event of a week or two, but a mission that has lasted 70, 80, or 99 years. We have served the Lord and followed God's leading as best as we could. We have pursued whatever type of ministry or calling we felt God was encouraging us to do. We have loved our spouses and our children and served them in a kind and caring way. We have lived responsibly, treated people with respect, worked hard in our careers, and shared Jesus with others, as much as we were able. And now it is over. Although we have sometimes cried in our earthly life, there are no tears where we are going. We have sweated and feared and sometimes been depressed, but now we are in a place where these things are not allowed to enter. As the old hymn says, "Cares all past, home, at last, ever to rejoice." Somehow, I am convinced we will probably feel something like this when our earthly life comes to an end.


And I'm sure Jesus must have felt this joy as He ascended to heaven, only in a far greater measure. He was the one Man who fulfilled his To-Do checklist perfectly. All that the Father had given Him to do had been done. Be born of a virgin – check. Jesus was born to a virgin named Mary. Grow up without sin, showing respect for His earthly parents and obeying the laws and commands of His Heavenly Father – check. The Bible tells us that Jesus "was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). Teach our world about the nature of the Heavenly Father – check. One simple phrase that we find in the gospels, spoken of Jesus is this: "And He began to teach." Once, when His enemies sent police out to arrest Jesus, they came back without Him. When the religious leaders asked why they did not bring Him back with them, they replied, "No one ever spoke the way this man does" (John 7:46).


Jesus Checked All the Boxes


Heal the sick – check! Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil" (Acts 10:38). Cast out demons – check! Mark writes: "He healed many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons" (Mark 1:34). Raise the dead – check! Jesus commanded a dead man named Lazarus to "come forth," and Lazarus had no choice but to obey. Jesus also raised a widow's son and a 12-year-old girl. Die for the sins of the world – check! The Bible says, "who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness…" (1 Peter 2:24). Rise from the dead after three days – check! After His resurrection, Jesus told His disciples: "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations" (Luke 24:46-47).


Jesus had done all that the Father had sent Him to do. No errors, no sins, no fouls. Now He sits at the right hand of the Father, drawing people like you and me to Himself. One day He will return, but until that Day, we will serve Him and proclaim Him to a wicked and unbelieving world. Like Jesus, we have our own, much smaller to-do list, and we must check those boxes, and do the will of God.



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