It’s tempting to give up on things when we fail to see positive results. Yet, life is so much like farming. Things take time to grow and become fruitful. God’s Word instructs us to be patient, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9) Patience is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Baptist Missionary Adoniram Judson baptized the first Burmese convert, Moung Nau, seven years after leaving the United States. Judson spent seventeen years translating the Bible into the Burmese language. After its completion he wrote, “Thanks be to God, I can say now I have attained. I have knelt down before him with the last leaf in my hand.”
Thinking about tomorrow may require us to do some envisioning. Joshua and Caleb believed that the Israelites could take possession of Canaan when the other spies did not believe it was possible. Their words give us a vision of Israel’s future, “‘If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.’” (Exodus 14:8) This kind of envisioning calls for faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
Thinking about tomorrow may require us to do some planning. The Bible encourages us to obtain the assistance of others. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22) More importantly we need to talk with God. “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21) My plans for tomorrow must fit within God’s plan for tomorrow. For that reason we pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.”
Thinking about tomorrow may require us to do some preparing. Our Lord’s example of prayer demonstrates preparation. “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he designated apostles.” (Luke 6:12-13) These would be the people Jesus trained for ministry, and traveled with over a three-year period. Although Judas would betray him, the Lord’s time with these men resulted in incredible spiritual growth and fruitful ministry.
The prayer that we offer to God positions us to receive his direction. His guidance may lead us in a surprising direction. When the Apostle Paul tried to enter Asia God stopped him. When Paul and his companions tried to enter Bithynia God stopped them. Then Paul received a vision from a man of Macedonia, begging him, “‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’” (Acts 16:9) This direction led to the establishment of churches in Philippi and other Macedonia communities. Hearing from God helps us to trust Him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Philosopher William James once wrote, “The best use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.” I’m encouraged by God’s Spirit to invest in people who will do for the Lord what I have been doing. One day when I am no longer able to serve they will take my place. Paul told Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” (II Timothy 2:2) In these words we see a forward-looking Apostle who believed that the teaching of God’s word was passed from generation to generation. It was a hope for tomorrow.
When God places something on our hearts to do for him, it’s important that we remember He holds the future. We should not give up. George Mueller prayed for over fifty years for two men to be converted. They were. In his classic book, Spiritual Leadership, J. Oswald Sanders quotes Mueller who asked the question, “‘Do you think God would have kept me praying all these years if He did not intend to save them?’” We should, like George Mueller, live in faith from day to day, but never give up on tomorrow. “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
Pastor Ken Atchison
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com.