Welcome to day three of my 30Days-30Pics: Defining Short-Term Missions.
I thought that since days one and two had to do with vision (how friends see you & how you see yourself)… I’d stick with that theme, but today is not about you, it’s about how you see the present and the future.
With me? Good, let’s go.
Variations of clear to distorted
I took today’s photo in the Trophy Gallery of Chambord Castle in summer 2017. You’re looking out onto newly renovated renaissance gardens (also 2017) through a multi-paned, old-glass window.
Notice how each small pane allows you to see more or less clearly. The best example is the two vertical panes near the bottom-middle: the right side is slightly lighter and more clear than the pane on the left side which is darker and more blurry.
This irregularity is characteristic of “old glass” as opposed to modern glass which is more uniform.
My experience of short-term missions is that this lack of uniformity is not uncommon when it comes to our ability to see what lies around or ahead of us. Let’s look at it in terms of past, present & future vision.
Past-related vision is perhaps the clearest vision we have. There’s a reason we say “Hindsight is 20/20.” We make decisions relating to the future without knowing all the facts & figures so we take a calculated risk and make a decision based on what we do know.
All that we live and experience, subsequent to the decision however, allows us to look back on it and evaluate its merit.
Think back to when God called you to missionary service. You had a lot of questions at the time yet you took the step of faith and have a clearer sense of the value of your response to God’s call.
Present and future related vision is more tricky. You’re trying to discern the next step, to find the missing piece of the puzzle, to understand the meaning of this or that new piece of information. It can be overwhelming.
Think back to our window for a moment. One piece alone would give us an incomplete picture. If you happen to be looking through the darker and less clear piece, it’s even more difficult to appreciate what God is trying to show you. It’s only when you assemble the clear and the slightly less clear pieces, allowing the slightly lighter pieces to help you interpret the darker ones, that you are able to make a reasonable guess as to what’s going on.
That is the constant mental exercise of the short-term missionary: evaluate, interpret, understand, guess-timate.
A lack of clear vision is not always a comfortable place to live but it develops at least three things in our lives:
- Faith – The most important thing we have going for us, when we can’t see clearly, is the assurance that God has a plan and delights to reveal it if we’ll seek after him and walk in faith.
- Prayer – How do we come to understand God’s will for our present and our future? We have to talk to him and become accustomed to hearing and recognizing his voice.
- Interdependancy – We must have access to other people or other pieces of the puzzle to help us interpret what we’re seeing. Having one or two spiritually-minded, kingdom-focused people as trusted confidants will help you see more clearly (think of it like having helpers to “clean the streaks off the window”).
These apply to the ministry in which you’re currently involved as well as to the next phase of ministry that God may be leading you toward.
God bless you as you pursue clear in Short-Term Missions.
“It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things;
He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.”