Letter to the Editor: Stepping stones

by Jonathan Buchanan correspondent

We are brought into massive expectations here at Moody. For many of us, we have dreams of plugging into ministry and directly impacting the kingdom of God. We long to make a difference in the lives of kids, adults, families, strangers and friends. Being at Moody, the question, “what do you want to do?” is not an uncommon one for me to encounter. My response is revealing.

Often I respond with something along the lines of what “I want to do…” But recently I took time to silence myself before the Lord, and was floored by a question. Sometimes I wonder how my brothers and sisters in Christ here at MBI would respond if I were to ask them that question:

“Would you consider your ministry a success if you got involved in a church or the mission field, expended all your efforts and energy for your entire life and never saw one heart change or fruit in the life of those you witnessed to?”

While some could question how effectively you were actually ministering, that is not the point. Rather, this question is one of service, and it drew me back to a quote I remember reading in high school.

One of the Pilgrims, second governor of the Plymouth colony William Bradford, in “On Plymouth Plantation” writes, “a great hope and inward zeal they had of laying some good foundation, or at least to make some way thereunto, for the propagating and advancing the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world; yea, though they should be but even as stepping stones unto others for the performing of so great a work.”

The idea is intriguing and downright horrifying. The nature of a stepping stone is not one we really idolize. To be honest I want to see the results of trying to minister to and make a difference in the lives of others. But a stepping stone often never sees the end of the trail. In fact it may never see the next stone on the path. Instead a stepping stone is trampled over, often splashed with mud and grime. It is not a glorified position, but helps someone along an often difficult path.

Being a stepping stone really comes down to the questions of faith, trust and the sovereignty of our loving Triune God. Do I have enough faith to pour out all my efforts and not see the end result? Do I really trust in a loving Father who has a plan for all things? Am I willing to expend my strength, find comfort in the Lord alone and trust Him for the harvest to come, even if I do not see it?

As Hebrews 11 reminds us, so many of the heroes of the faith never did see the end result of their actions. But they all trusted the Lord and welcomed the end promise from a distance. They served the Lord out of intimate relationship with Him, and trusted Him to complete the work He had started.

I hope and pray that as we enter the summer with all the opportunities of ministry to come, both planned and unexpected, we may give ourselves to others without expectation, trusting our heavenly Father to complete the work that He chose to let us participate in.

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