(This week I’ve included the original song “The Heart of A Friend” with this blog. Enjoy!)

I once heard something about serving God that I now know is not true:

“If God is in it, ministry should be easy.”

I love serving God and count it a privilege to be doing the work God has called me to do. There is great fulfillment in being part of God’s kingdom work, and it is an incredible experience to hear God’s people worshipping Him, seeing lives transformed and people spending their lives for Jesus Christ. But ministry is also work, and sometimes very hard work!  Above and beyond the practical preparations, meetings, rehearsals, and services there is also the important ministry of walking alongside people who are in the valleys of life, searching for God, or in great need of His touch in their lives. We are called for times such as these, and often they are far from easy.

Our culture often preaches the “path of least resistance” approach to life. While on the surface it is appealing, that approach ultimately leads to self-centered emptiness and unfulfilled lives.

This week Terese and I watched a television program where Don Larson, the CEO of The Sunshine Nut Company, was interviewed.  Don had a very successful corporate career and could have taken the path of least resistance to live a comfortable life in the United States. Instead, he heard God speak to him [in his own words]:

“…with clarity that was almost audible – saying, “Go and build food factories in developing nations to bring lasting economic transformation.”

(source: the Sunshine Nut company website)

So Don moved his entire family to Mozambique to focus on transforming lives. From a humble start in 2011, the business has since grown to produce world-class cashews in many places including the United States. Don’s company now has a staff of 30 people—most coming from poor communities and orphanages! I’m sure it has been very hard work for Don and his family, who stated that when he travels, he often sleeps on couches in friends’ houses as he presents his product to retailers throughout the country. In the television interview, however, Don also stated that he has learned a new, deeper meaning of real wealth—the spiritual riches of seeing lives transformed by Christ—as well as the changed economic circumstances of the people his company employs.

God has taught me that even though full and complete rest awaits all who love Jesus Christ, we remain on this planet to complete the purposeful work He has ordained for us.  Sometimes that work is hard, but God’s work is always beautiful and rewarding, especially in the kingdom that is still to come.

A clarifying note: It’s very important to understand and embrace that we are saved by God’s grace poured into our lives, not by our works to try to gain His favor. That kind of work is likened to filthy rags and worthless refuse (garbage) that leave us empty, lost, and in futility.  None of us can claim entry into God’s presence because of our efforts—But we don’t have to because Jesus has already done it for us! Once we say ‘yes’ to Jesus Christ, we enter into a new, eternally intimate relationship with God. We are adopted as forever sons and daughters of God, never alone, and never again lost.

Right now I’m preparing for the recording sessions of new worship music I’ve written. The pre-production work is very hard and grueling, but even as I do this I look forward to the fruit of this work: the lives that will be touched and hopefully changed by God as they listen to music that points them to Him!

I value your prayers and friendship as I enter into this new work of ministry in and for Christ.

God bless you.

Chris Atkins