Past, present and future--for those of us who are striving to learn Spanish, these words make us think of verb tenses. In the Spanish language the verb, or action word, changes with the tense that is used. The question I ask myself is...do my actions change when I consider the past, present or future?
When I was younger and before we moved to Mexico, the future looked clean, like spring--full of hope and excitement. My actions tended to be filled with energy and idealism. As the years passed, my days filled with ministry, the family matured, spring turned into summer and the anticipation of spring planting turned into the dog days of summer. The "plants" must be fertilized and the "weeds" must be pulled. The idealism turned into realism and the excitement turned into perseverance.
There were times of dryness as we waited for God to bring the "rain" and other times we sat back amazed when the "rain" did come and growth came in large chunks. Sometimes I felt sad for those who gave financially so that we could be involved in church planting, because they didn't get to see first-hand the changes that God did in the lives of the people.
Then the season changed again as "autumn" arrived, with contemplation about the past. There are things we would adjust if we could, and there are joys that still bring contentment as we ponder the past. As we reflect, we learn. We become more aware of the need for prayer in our own lives, as we are reminded time and again that we just plant and water but God gives the increase. We teach and encourage, but God must do the work in the hearts if there is to be real change.
When we came to Mexico our oldest was ten. Now, two are married and starting their own families. As our family matures and the church becomes more self-sustaining, I look back. What have I learned? What was good or what didn't work? Have I grown? Do I see circumstances and events through God's eyes or does my selfishness still rise to the top as cream rises to the top of fresh milk?
As I reflect, I rummage around to find a list I penned in the past, and which is still in the reworking stage. The list has around fifty points of what I have learned. Here are a few that I hope will be a help for those of you who are in the spring or summer of your ministries or families.
* I need flexibility.
* I need to hold my "rights" loosely.
* My weaknesses follow me to the "mission field."
* I will probably never completely understand the new culture I am living in.
* It is easier to start a ministry than to complete it.
* It is still more enjoyable to preach in my mother tongue.
* Being too "connected" to the world and extended family can be a major thief of time and can cause excessive worries.
* I need the "mind of Christ."
A few about the family:
* Children adapt easily.
*Children learn the language easier.
* On the mission field, children have the privilege to see Christianity from the ground up and new believers maturing and being able to preach.
* Children on the mission field have the opportunity to participate in ministry at a young age.
I am thankful for what I have experienced these past years. Some have been a lot more enjoyable than others. May God bless those who are just starting with perseverance, the ability to laugh at oneself, and the blessing of being refined into what God wants you to become.
--Written by L.Y.