Sometimes I wonder if God keeps us from seeing all of the successes of our ministries in order to keep us humble, but yet He lets us see just enough to keep us going. We all need an encouraging nudge in the right direction from time to time. Some of these nudges may seem more significant than others, but they are just what we need at the time.
Around 2005, I started a small group Bible study with a family in their neighborhood. A teenage neighbor friend of the family would occasionally join us. During this time she sent me a Facebook friend request, which I accepted. Well a couple of years ago I was going through my friends list and ran across her name. I thought to myself, it has been so many years since I have seen this person, I might as well delete them as a friend. I never talk to her and will never see her again. Its been over 15 years since I ever saw her, what’s the point of having her as a Facebook friend? As I stated to delete her as my friend another thought came to me, just leave it alone. It’s not like it’s hurting anything to have her as a friend. Just leave her as a friend, what difference does it make? So I left it alone and we remained Facebook friends even though as far as I could tell we had absolutely no connection for at least 15 years.
Then last year at the funeral for a family member of the home where we had our small group studies, I ran into this girl for the first time in at least 15 years. She told me how much she loved and appreciated my inspirational Facebook posts. She made a comment letting me know she was still following my recent posts. My first thought was, Good thing I did not delete her! Since she never “liked” my posts or commented, and we had no communication between us, I had no idea she had still been following me for the last15 years!
A few years ago I was a guest speaker at a church not far from a church where I was serving. I preached my sermon, greeted the folk and left. As far as I could tell it was a pleasant service but nothing exceptional. A couple of months later a friend from the church I was serving in told me his son and his fiancée were at the church I spoke at. He told me that his son’s fiancée was so touched by the sermon that she decided to be baptized. She never said anything to me. If her future father-in-law had not gone to my church and told me, I never would have known the success of my sermon that day.
These are just a couple of experiences I have had to remind myself and you that we walk by faith not by sight. We are not to give up because we will never know until we get to heaven just how successful our efforts have been. Just recently someone shared this passage in a pastor’s meeting, from The Message version. It really touched my heart and the hearts of those around me.
So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 The Message
My soul really resonated with the “There’s more here than meets the eye” part. I hope you already feel your ministry is a huge success, but I am here to tell you, the greater portion of your success will never be realized until heaven. For example there was that book in the attic I shared with you four years ago. Palchelbel’s Cannon was written in the 1600’s but laid around in obscurity for years until it was re-discovered and made popular in the mid 1900’s. Needless to say Palchelbel never saw the success of his masterpiece. Likewise you may never see the success of your work in this life. But we walk by faith and not by sight. There is more to your work than what meets the eye. When I became a literature evangelist way back in 1990 a good friend shared this passage with me. It has remained a source of inspiration throughout the various stages of my ministry.
Christ rejoiced that He could do more for His followers than they could ask or think. He spoke with assurance, knowing that an almighty decree had been given before the world was made. He knew that truth, armed with the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit, would conquer in the contest with evil; and that the bloodstained banner would wave triumphantly over His followers. He knew that the life of His trusting disciples would be like His, a series of uninterrupted victories, not seen to be such here, but recognized as such in the great hereafter…….Christ did not fail, neither was He discouraged, and His followers are to manifest a faith of the same enduring nature. They are to live as He lived, and work as He worked, because they depend on Him as the great Master Worker. Courage, energy, and perseverance they must possess. Though apparent impossibilities obstruct their way, by His grace they are to go forward. Instead of deploring difficulties, they are called upon to surmount them. They are to despair of nothing, and to hope for everything. With the golden chain of His matchless love Christ has bound them to the throne of God. It is His purpose that the highest influence in the universe, emanating from the source of all power, shall be theirs. They are to have power to resist evil, power that neither earth, nor death, nor hell can master, power that will enable them to overcome as Christ overcame. – Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Pages 679-680.
Don’t give up. Walk by faith not by sight. There is more to your work today than what meets the eye.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.