Peter, James, and John were the ones selected from the eleven (Judas was gone by now) to stand with Jesus in His great hour of need. They were given this ministry task, "Watch and pray." That's it? Yes! Stay alert and pray like never before.
You know the story. Leaving them with this assignment, Jesus later returned to find the three disciples sound asleep. Stirring Peter, James, and John from their sleep, Jesus encouraged them to pray hard, after which, they promptly managed to fall asleep again. A second time, Jesus returned and repeated the same words, and again the disciples dozed off. A third time, Jesus found them sleeping when they were supposed to be praying.
Have you ever failed in a ministry assignment? I will never forget my first attempt at being a guest preacher in another man's pulpit. I was about nineteen years old and was approached a few minutes prior to a Sunday night service in Stillwater, Oklahoma with the invitation to speak. To this day, I cringe when I remember that service. I will spare you the gory details, but I will tell you it was really awful. Did I say really awful? Actually, it was worse than really awful!
So what happens when you fall flat on your face attempting to do something for the Lord? What happens when you mess up the message, or forget the words to the song, or blow the witnessing encounter, or fall asleep in the prayer meeting? What happens when you make a left turn in ministry when you should have turned right? Does the Lord rebuke you for the failure and relegate you to the ministry "B" team? Are you benched? Is it over for you?
Thankfully, the answer is no. Upon finding His disciples sleeping for the third time, Jesus said, "Rise up, let us go" (Mark 15:42). In the face of ministry failure the Lord says, "Rise up." Jesus knows we can do better and desires to give us another chance. He also says, "Let us go." I like that word "us." Jesus doesn’t abandon us when we fail. And the word "go" speaks of forward progress. In spite of past mistakes, we still have a future.
So if you have taken a ministry tumble or two, don't let the devil convince you that you are down for the count. Every Christian is called to serve in ministry. Open your eyes and see the outstretched hand of the Savior. Time to get up; there’s work to be done. And as the strong arm of the Lord lifts you to your feet, hear Him say, "Rise up, let us go.”
Pastor Todd Weston