If it was all up to us, the work of gospel ministry would look a lot like building the Tower of Babel.
Over the course of my time as a ministry apprentice, I've found myself learning the same lesson again and again. The life of the Christian is one of radical dependence on God.
For my own family, this has been a very strange apprenticeship. It began in Liverpool and ended in rural Scotland with a stopover in Poland. Visa trouble led to a time of us learning to live in two countries while I sorted out a new place for us to live. Then it was learning how to lead a church in a new language! And upon landing in Scotland, it was suddenly facing the task of learning to serve people when you're not allowed to meet them in person. In the midst of all of this upheaval, we were powerless. Our only hope was that God was doing something.
As for the Christian life, so for the work of gospel ministry. I often think about Paul's second missionary journey (Acts 16). He, Silas and Timothy had been commissioned to go and preach the gospel. And yet, the journey begins with God preventing them from doing just that over the course of 400 miles trekking through Asia (modern-day Türkiye). It's baffling why God would prevent his word from being preached over such a big stretch of land.
And yet, on the other side came the reason. Rather than go where the gospel had gone before, God was calling Paul to go and preach the Word in Europe. To a place where there weren't even enough Jewish men to form a synagogue. To quote one of my teachers, Paul was going to try and sow gospel seed in a carpark. God's plan was to plant a church made up of the wonkiest group of people you could find; to think that the church in Philippi was started with the first-century equivalent of Posh Spice, a liberated slave girl and an ex-military prison guard who had just been saved from his own suicide!
This is not how we envision gospel ministry or even living the ordinary Christian life. Perhaps it is because, for those of us in the West, we're often shown this crazy idea that following Jesus is the path to living your best life or experiencing all of the blessings of knowing Jesus right here, right now. We're shown a life of power and victory; a life that we can build ourselves; a life that looks an awful lot like the Tower of Babel.
What Jesus presents is a much different path, but it's one that is no less glorious. A life of radical dependance on God is one that gives him the glory because it recognises that any good or blessing or trial is there to point us back to him. The life that Jesus offers isn't glorious, easy or even logical (in a human sense).
Instead, it is a life that can give us joy when everything seems to be falling to pieces. It is a life where we can experience peace which surpasses all understanding as it guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.