Losing sight of land. Some days I feel like an ancient sailor on an ancient ship as you leave the shore behind…
“…God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth do change, And though the mountains be shaken into the heart of the seas;” (Psalms 46:1-2)
Today has arrived in all its glory. The sunshine fills the sky, the breeze is brisk—which translates to a forty mile per hour, put a rock in your pocket and pin your wig on tight, wind.
Losing sight of land. Some days I feel like an ancient sailor on an ancient ship as you leave the shore behind, the harbor and anything that was recognizable disappears. All that surrounds you is the air and sea for miles, and hopefully, there is someone who knows not just where you are going, but how to get there.
There is a mission. I’ve watched small children that have a mission in mind. The mission isn’t discernable maybe other than they are intent on doing it. In my young life, I would on occasion walk in my sleep. One night in particular it was raining and storming loudly outside with thunder and lightning.
I remember waking up as I stood at the front door, unlatching the lock to go outside. At this time my cousin, Kathy, and her baby were visiting my grandparents. She had gotten up to prepare a bottle for her little one, and as I stood there she asked me, “What are you doing?”
I had walked downstairs in my sleep and just woke up. I had no idea what I was doing and answered accordingly. “I don’t know.”
“Well, get back upstairs,” she said as she took the bottle out of the water. I dutifully turned around and walked back toward the stairs as she turned off the light and she began walking back toward the bedroom, but…
Somewhere during that time I fell asleep again and turned back toward the front door. I collided with her before I could get to the front door, and she snapped at me, “What are you doing? Get back to bed.” I must have made it that time.
Life can be like that. We arrive on this earth with a mission, but somewhere we forget what it is. Worse, we lose sight of the steersman to keep us going in the right direction.
“Howbeit at that time, not knowing God, ye were in bondage to them that by nature are no gods: but now that ye have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how turn ye back again to the weak and beggarly rudiments, whereunto ye desire to be in bondage over again?” (Galatians 4:8-9)
Of course, the bad part about this is when you don’t know where you are going, you don’t know when you have arrived. And the next question is am I where I’m supposed to be?
I’ve heard people say such things as, “I’m right where I need to be.” And I’ve thought, “Well, that isn’t where I’d like to be, but if they’re happy I guess there’s that.” Or as my Grandmother used to say, “Each to their notion said the little old lady that kissed the cow.”
We do need to be content to be where God has called us to be, and where God has put us. Old Fuzzy and I were planning to do mission work overseas with a group of students from the School of Preaching after he graduated.
The first part of the team had their funding and were making their final plans when a political happening happened and they couldn’t get into the target country. They ended up in Hong Kong, I believe.
We found a congregation looking to work with a more local, in the United States work, so we remained state-side in our home state working in the Northeastern part of the state. We later moved back to our home territory and have stayed in this state ever since.
What has happened in this area for quite some time is, for instance with our small congregation, we find preachers who have support (for their work and their family) in an area. These, usually young, families move in and begin their work, but…
The supporting congregation wants to see results. They want to see numbers growing. They want to see baptisms and Bible studies happening and often their goal is to “wean the preacher and the congregation off of their support.” They want to see the congregation become self-supporting most often in a few years.
When that scenario doesn’t happen along their time frame the supporting congregation looks for a new spot for their preacher and his family to work with, or a different congregation and preacher to work with.
A few years back in speaking to a fellow worker in this area I told her what this state and this congregation needed was not the ‘missionary’ type workers who come in and are employed with a congregation for a few years or to fulfill someone’s goals
I told her that what we needed in this work was someone who would live and work here in this area. Someone who would have children, raise those children here, live here, and become part of this culture.
There was a catchy line a few years ago, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I don’t espouse that belief, but people will know how sincere you are by where you put your life.
I recall an article written about missionaries working in a country where the groups they attempted to minister to didn’t have time for the missionaries. The local people had become used to the ministers being there only for a short time then they would be gone. They were used to missionaries that weren’t really invested in the lives of the people.
The reality is that sometimes it takes a lifetime. The reality is that sometimes we don’t get more bang for our buck by doing things fast. Keep in mind the joke about if we are what we eat, we are either fast, cheap, or easy—but that doesn’t work in this work. No matter where our mission work may be we need to make the commitment to stick with it.
“Then Mordecai bade them return answer unto Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then will relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place, but thou and thy father’s house will perish: and who knoweth whether thou art not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)
Such a time as this… Apparently, there is a chance that Old Fuzzy and I are where we are supposed to be at the time we are supposed to be. God’s people never should doubt who is in control and the ability to place people where they are supposed to be at the right time.
“Come, behold the works of Jehovah, What desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariots in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Jehovah of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.” (Psalms 46:8-11)