Saturday, October 17, 2020

Looking Back to Look Ahead


            Paging through an old journal, I came across a long-forgotten, challenging decision. I had taught part time at a Harrisburg business college. Just when I had the opportunity to become a full-time instructor, I was also invited to teach part-time Christian education at a seminary. What to do?

            The business college was half the distance as the seminary and offered much greater financial security—with benefits. But I had earned a master’s degree in Christian education, and serving God was where my heart lay. It was a tough decision. But after much thought, discussion and prayer, I went with the seminary.

            For several years I commuted an hour and a half each way a few days a week. In sun, rain and snow, I climbed over the Bethel Mountain. I remember getting off I-81 at Tower City and praying my way up that long hill on Route 209.

            The seminary had three levels with the parking lot off the basement level. No elevator, of course, so I toted bags of books and teaching supplies up two loooong flights of stairs. I sometimes came home exhausted. But happy.

            Teaching adults stretched me. Professors led chapel services, and I was horrified to learn that category included me. What in the world could I speak about to a chapel filled with full-time professors and wannabe preachers?

            That chapel was the first place I attempted to present the book of Philippians from memory. And it was well received. People told me they heard things they never realized reading the scripture.

            Teaching a class titled “Women in Ministry” gave me the germ of an idea to write my book Sisterhood of Faith. My students were women who had dedicated their lives to full-time Christian service, but they didn’t know what that meant for them. The seminary’s sponsoring denomination allowed them to take preaching courses but did not ordain women. So, they wondered, what had God called them to do?

            Preparation for that course opened my eyes to the myriad of ways God has worked through women down through the church age. Yes, there were often challenges as women in leadership faced tension and rejection, but that only made them more determined to find a different way to serve God. And they did. And so would the women in my class.

            After I gave up that position, I wrote my book, and my book and seminary experience gave me credibility, which led to speaking.

            Bill and I once walked to a waterfall in a park. The walk was longer than we anticipated, and the falls were but a trickle. But a sign there read: “A long walk to a small but beautiful falls.” After that, whenever we experienced a small pay off for a big output, we joked that we’d taken a long walk to a small but beautiful falls.

            In a way, my life has been like that. I’ve never held a job long enough to warrant a pension. And if I were not married, I could not have pursued seminary and writing and speaking.

            But as I look back at early life experiences—teaching Good News Club in my home, serving in my church—they all contributed well to making me who I am today.

            My years of teaching high school, my years of teaching at the business college and my seminary experience built upon each other to equip me for writing and speaking. My love of scripture inspired me to memorize, which became an important part of my speaking ministry.

            And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Romans 8:28-29 NIV)

            Life can be challenging. There’s no doubt about that. But we have a God Who is bigger than the challenges, a God Who can turn burdens into blessings and challenges into contributions. A God who works all things together for good.

            Look back and see what He has done in your life. Then look ahead and consider how He might have prepared you for a special future.