In 2015, Be Where Your Feet Are is the banner we hung over the ministry year at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church. In other words, it was a call to be a fully engaged follower of Christ in the life you actually have. Be personally, emotionally, and intellectually present, in the physical place where God’s providence places your feet at any moment. Each day should be seen as a uniquely strategic gospel opportunity. Satan desires us to live in abstraction and a fantasy-world of “what if?” and “if only?” but the Scripture admonishes us to live for Christ in the concrete reality of our daily lives: “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col 3:17). Nobody else can be you—surrendered to Jesus.
During the year I have been looking for this theme in many of my favorite authors, pastors, and theologians. We have posted several examples from the life and ministry of the great English Baptist pastor C.H. Spurgeon, and we will close the year with another. The excerpts below are from a sermon based on Joshua 1:5, titled “Strengthening Medicine for God’s Servants,” preached at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. I have added the headings, but the paragraphs are excerpts from Spurgeon’s sermon.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons “Strengthening Medicine for God’s Servants,” vol. 21, no. 1,214 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1875), 52-55.
Let me mention when I think we may safely feel that God says to us, “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Surely it is when we are called to do God’s work. Joshua’s work was the Lord’s work. It was God who had given the country to the people, and who had said, “I will drive out the Canaanite from before thee,” and Joshua was God’s executioner, the sword in the hand of the Lord for the driving out of the condemned races. He was not entering upon a quixotic engagement of his own choosing and devising; he had not elected himself, and selected his own work, but God had called him to it, put him in the office, and bidden him do it, and therefore he said to him, “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
Be Where Your Feet are at Your Job
Brother, are you serving God? Do you live to win souls? Is it your grand object to be the instrument in God’s hand of accomplishing his purposes of grace to the fallen sons of men? Do you know that God has put you where you are, and called you to do the work to which your life is dedicated? Then go on in God’s name, for, as surely as he called you to his work, you may be sure that to you also he says, as indeed to all his servants, “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” But I hear some of you say, “We are not engaged in work of such a kind that we could precisely call it ‘work for God.’ ” Well, brethren, but are you engaged in a work which you endeavor to perform to God’s glory? Is your ordinary and common trade one which is lawful—one concerning which you have no doubt as to its honest propriety; and in carrying it on do you follow right principles only? Do you endeavor to glorify God in the shop? Do you make the bells on the horses, holiness to the Lord?
Be Where Your Feet Are Raising Your Children
It would not be possible for all of us to be preachers, for where would be the hearers? Many a man would be very much out place if he were to leave his ordinary calling, and devote himself to what is so unscripturally called “the ministry.” The fact is, the truest religious life is that in which a man follows the ordinary calling of life in the spirit of a Christian. Now, are you so doing? If so, you are as much ministering before God in measuring out yards of calico, or weighing pounds of tea, as Joshua was in slaying Hivites, and Jebusites, and Hittites. You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, and training them up in God’s fear, and minding the house, and making your household a church for God, as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the Lord of hosts. And you may take this promise for yourself, for the path of duty is the path where this promise is to be enjoyed. “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
The Extraordinary Power of Your Ordinary Life
Now, mark you, if you are living for yourself, if you are living for gain, if selfishness be the object of life, or if you are pursuing an unhallowed calling, if there is anything about your mode of business which is contrary to the mind and will of God and sound doctrine, you cannot expect God to aid you in sin, nor will he do it. Neither can you ask him to pander to your lusts, and to assist you in the gratification of your own selfishness. But if you can truly say, “I live to the glory of God, and the ordinary life that I lead I desire to consecrate to his glory entirely,” then may you take this promise home to yourself, “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
Take God Into Your Daily Calculations
But, mark you, there is another matter. We must, if we are to have this promise, take God into our calculations. A great many persons go about their supposed lifework without thinking about God. I have heard of one who said everybody had left him, and some one said, “But surely, as a Christian, God has not failed you?” “Oh,” said he, “I forgot God.” I am afraid there are many who call themselves Christians, and yet forget God in common life. Among all the forces that a man calculates upon when he engages in an enterprise, he should never omit the chief force: but often it is so with us. We enquire, “Am I competent for such a work? I ought to undertake it, but am I competent?” And straightway there is a calculation made of competences. And in these competences there is no item put down, “Item, the promise of a living God. Item, the guidance of the Spirit.” These are left out of the calculation.
Remember that if you willfully omit them you cannot expect to enjoy them. You must walk by faith if you are to enjoy the privileges of the faithful. “The just shall live by faith,” and if you begin to live by sense, you shall join the weeping and the wailing of those who have gone to broken cisterns, and have found them empty; and your lips shall be parched with thirst, because you have forgotten the fountain of living waters to which you should have gone. Do you, brethren and sisters, habitually take God into your calculations? Do you calculate upon omniscient direction and omnipotent aid? I have heard of a certain captain who had led his troops into a very difficult position, and he knew that on the morrow he should want them all to be full of courage; and so, disguising himself, at nightfall he went round their tents, and listened to their conversations, until he heard one of them say, “Our captain is a very great warrior, and has won many victories, but he has this time made a mistake; for see, there are so many thousands of the enemy, and he has only so many infantry, so many cavalry, and so many guns.”
The soldier made out the account, and was about to sum up the scanty total when the captain, unable to bear it any longer, threw aside the curtain of the tent, and said, “And how many do you count me for, sir?”—as much as to say, “I have won so many battles that you ought to know that my skill can multiply battalions by handling them.” And so the Lord hears his servants estimating how feeble they are, and how little they can do, and how few are their helpers; and I think I hear him rebukingly say, “But how many do you count your God for? Is he never to come into your estimate? You talk of providing, and forget the God of providence; you talk of working, but forget the God who works in you to will and to do of his own good pleasure.”
How often in our enterprises have prudent people plucked us by the sleeve, and said we have gone too far. Could we reckon upon being able to carry out what we had undertaken? No, we could not reckon upon it, except that we believed in God, and with God all things are possible. If it be his work, we may venture far beyond the shallowness of prudence into the great deeps of divine confidence, for God who warrants our faith, will honour it ere long. Oh, Christian, if you can venture, and feel it to be no venture, then may you grasp the promise, “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”