Day 151: May 31, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

John 10:40-42 Read Online

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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

And many believed in Him there.

—John 10:42

God Keeps Working, Even Off Stage
by Darrell Gwaltney,

My first ministry position in a church was serving as a children's pastor. Even though I didn’t know anything about children, I had the opportunity to serve so I learned as fast as I could what I was supposed to do.

One of my least favorite responsibilities was to get up on Saturday morning and visit children, inviting them to ride the bus to church the next day. It wasn’t that I didn’t love the children. It was that I just didn’t like getting up early every Saturday morning!

Thanks to the dedication of one of my volunteers, an older man named Richard, who regularly called me to remind me to meet him at 8:30 a.m. at the church, I’d drag myself out to go visit the children. Richard and I would meet at church and then spend a couple hours visiting the homes of children in the neighborhoods surrounding our church.

Twenty-five years later, when that church was celebrating their 150th anniversary, they invited me to come back and speak in their celebration service. After I preached, a young man came up to me and asked if I remembered him. I looked at his nametag and his name was familiar, but I couldn’t place the face.

He laughed and said, “Well, the last time you saw me I was 12 years old! Every Saturday, you’d come visit me, and you’d invite my sister and me to come to church. Finally, after a long time, we came to church. I just wanted to thank you for introducing me to Jesus! I’m a deacon here in the church now and my sister is a Sunday School teacher. Without you, we probably never would’ve come to church.”

Our Scripture for today has Jesus eluding His accusers, slipping across the Jordan River, and trying to avoid further controversy. It’s a momentary pause in the story of Jesus just before He raises Lazarus from the grave.

However, it’s not really a pause, except for the fact that we don’t really know what He did when He was “across the Jordan River.” The Scripture doesn’t tell us if He did anything, only that He returned to a place where John had been baptizing and the people there recognized Him. Most of all, “Many believed in him there” (verse 42).

This is a fascinating text because it reminds us that even while we don’t know exactly what Jesus was doing off-stage and just out of sight from the biblical narrative, people still believed in Him.

God often works that way. We like to think we should watch for the big thunderous evidence of God at work. In reality, some of God's best work happens off-stage, far from our everyday view.

When I was a much younger man, I did the things God called me to do. One of those things I didn’t enjoy doing very much, but it was something God had called me to do so I did it.

Years later, I met a young man who was introduced to Jesus Christ because I’d been faithful in some small things. It took 20 or more years for me to learn what God had been doing in his life—helping him find Jesus, raising him up to be a godly Christian father, and placing him in a position of leadership.

Even though I’d not seen it, God had been at work.

What small thing is God calling you to do today? Even if no one is watching, please know God has you in that place doing that small thing for a reason. Even if no one knows what’s happening, God could be preparing you for something amazing.

Remember the very next thing that happens with Jesus is He raises Lazarus from the dead! God is always at work off-stage, so make yourself available to be a part of what He’s doing.

Reflection Questions

  1. How often do you read over brief texts like this to get to the good parts of the story of Jesus? Have you ever stopped and wondered what He was doing when He was off stage from the Gospel stories?
  2. Do you feel like some of what you are doing is off stage? Do you wonder if anyone ever notices or if you are doing any good? Think about the various people you have invested your life in while you have served. Do you know what they are doing now?
  3. Verse 42 tells us “many believed in him there” but doesn’t tell us why or how or when. Is it enough for you to believe in Jesus to know that “many believed in him there” without knowing exactly why they believed, or how they believed, or when they believed? Do you always need the details of what God is doing, or can you believe that much of God’s best work may be happening out of your view?

About the Author

Darrell Gwaltney
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Darrell comes from St. Louis, Missouri, so it makes sense that he’s an avid St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan. For the last 33 years, he’s served in pastoral and teaching ministry. Since May 2004, he’s been the Dean for the School of Religion at Belmont University and continues to serve churches in the area as interim pastor. He’s married to Donna and has three adult children. You can find him online at and follow him on Twitter @DarrellGwaltney.