Looking at the Present in Light of Our Past

By guest writer Dixie Massey, InFaith Board of Trustees, taken from her talk given at our 200th Anniversary Celebration on April 28, 2017

 

We celebrate our 200th Anniversary as a mission this year. Part of the challenge of pausing in “the present moment” to celebrate is perspective. We look back with gratitude because we can more clearly see the path of what God has done. We look forward with hope and prayer over the changes that will come with new opportunities. But sometimes the present doesn’t feel like a gift.

 

The present can be quiet. When no one answers the call for salvation. More people don’t come to ministry activities. A ministry opportunity falls through. When nothing new seems to be happening.

 

The present can be lonely. Peers that understand are few and far between. The present can be disappointing. We’re in the middle of conflict. We’re in the middle of financial issues or health issues. And it may not feel like the present is always a time to celebrate.

 

We’re in good company:

  • Job cried, "If only I knew where to find him. If I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him." Losing a family and all that you own wears one down, even when we know that the name of the Lord is blessed.
  • Elijah felt alone and isolated, saying, "I have had enough, Lord. Take my life."
  • The disciples had to row all night before Jesus came walking on the water to them.
  • John the Baptist asked, "Are you the one who was to come," even after he proclaimed "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Sitting in a prison - wrongly accused - has that effect.

Now, we can look back on their time and say they were right where God put them for that time and that place. God was working. God had a plan and he accomplished it.

 

My dad, who was a missionary with InFaith, recently shared a story from his ministry with me. He hadn’t planned to visit a family that I will call the Smiths. They were a ranching family that lived far from town. But Dad felt that he should visit. As he pulled up into the yard, he was greeted warmly. He visited a bit, then grabbed coveralls that he always kept in his car in case he could go help in some barn or field. When he left, there was absolutely no indication that anything remarkable had occurred. Years and years later, long after he’d moved from that location, he received a letter from Mrs. Smith. In it, she told him that a few days before he arrived, she found out she was pregnant with her fourth child. She didn’t want to be pregnant. She wasn’t sure they could afford another child. So she decided that she would give herself an abortion. The morning that Dad arrived was the morning that she intended to follow through. After Dad left, she said she knew she should keep the child and she didn’t contemplate abortion again. The daughter that was born proved to be an incredible blessing to the family.

 

Sometimes, God gives us a glimpse of the work and of His plan, as He did for Dad in this case. But Dad didn’t know it in the present. He was called to be faithful even when he didn’t know if what he was doing had any impact.

 

We don’t always see what God is doing, but we reach into the past and know that He IS working. And because He is I Am—not I was, or I will be—we have this assurance that He is doing more than we know and more than our plans are. We are here for “such a time as this.”

 

And so I’ve begun to pray as a constant reminder, “Lord, I know You’re doing something. I don’t know what it is, but in this day, let me be a part of what You’re already doing right here and now.” And also for our mission, “Lord, let us be a part of what You’re already doing.”