I used the example of NASA’s New Horizons probe that recently gave us our first pictures of Pluto. When NASA launched the probe in 2006, if you were to draw out the probes trajectory, you would see that at the point of its destination, nothing was there… just empty space. And at times it feels like that’s where we are headed as we do ministry in the church, as we care for people: they aren’t getting better, their lives aren’t coming together… we’re going nowhere.
Or so it seems. If we could see the whole picture, we would notice that something interesting is on an intercept course with our projected path. And at the point of meeting, something amazing happens. We can’t predict it. We can’t orchestrate it. But we can remain faithful and discover what amazing moments lay in the future… a future perhaps years away.
I had one such moment this past week. Years ago, I worked with college students at the University of South Carolina. In fact, Merry and I started that college work at the school and I remember recruiting freshmen to come to social events and to the first weekly meeting. Two freshmen… high school sweethearts looking for another group meeting… stumbled across our gathering. They decided to stay. Over the next few years, Merry and I sought to love this young couple, share the love of Christ with them, and invite them into our home and lives. And just before her senior year, the young lady came to faith (the young man was a Christian before coming to school). I thought this was the high point… the great payoff for our faithfulness.
I was wrong. As I mentioned earlier, it came this past week while watching a promotional for Slugs & Bugs, a group that produces Christian children’s music. At the start of this video, three young boys talk about how wonderful the Slugs and Bugs music is because it teaches you about God. Who were these young children? The sons of that young couple that stumbled “by chance” into our first college meeting at USC. It was an incredible privilege to see the love Merry and I poured into those 18 year olds bear fruit, not just in their faith, but in the faith of the next generation! That was a destination I didn’t even dare imagine when we started that journey almost 20 years ago.
So my encouragement to you is this: you are not in control, so don’t try to outsmart your situation or manipulate the people you are seeking to love “for their own good.” Keep being faithful and you may be amazed by the things that end up on an intercept course with you: things so wonderful you didn’t dare imagine them.
You can find the promotional video here.