“Not A Failure”
November 4, 2011
Our neighbor’s farm pond and barn along Meeting House Road, Lancaster County PA. You can always count on their Saint Benard coming down to visit us as we walk by which is a bit frightful for our much smaller dogs!
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“You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure” (1 Thessalonians 2:1).
I am reading a book with the intriguing title, “Swimming With Crocodiles”. It recounts the experiences of Ronn Moyer, a friend of ours, who went to Nigeria to serve in mission work as a young man in the nineteen-fifties. The title is based on the dare of several fellow workers on a hot day to take a quick dip in a pool of water known to have crocodiles! One member of the team was perched up high with a rifle in case a crocodile got too close to the swimmers and Ronn very specifically recalls the prankster shooting the rifle, which caused the men to panic and get out of the water as quickly as possible!
In regard to his time of mission service Ronn shares the perspective of one looking back over 50 years to his service for the Lord as a young man. His words are wisdom to all of us who serve Christ. He writes, “My personal privilege was to spend 2½ years in Nigeria, West Africa, teaching English to fifth graders, operating a large citrus orchard to supply missionaries fresh fruit for better diet and teaching students how to improve their agricultural methods to better feed their families. Conditions were sometimes severe. Typical temperatures ranged from 70 to 120 degrees in the shade; no indoor plumbing plus contaminated water supplies which had to be boiled and filtered; no telephones or computers; letters through the mail to the states took about one month to send and receive; no social life or night life opportunities and malaria on two occasions, were some of the downside.
This was no easy period of time – to say the least – yet it was the most meaningful and rewarding period of my life. When I finally came back home I understood that I had been an important asset in assisting students and families from Nigeria to get guidance and training to begin their lives on the right track. Years later, letters of thanks arrived at my home. Hindsight has convinced me that, even without my conscious knowledge, God was leading me through that time as a way of giving me confidence, spiritual strength and training for the work of my life to follow.”
Today I want to share with my fellow servants one of the greatest hindrances to peace and fulfillment in our ministry for Christ. Each of us faces discouragement from time to time and even for extended periods because of our apparent “lack of success.” Contributing to this mindset are comparisons with others, our own expectations, expectations from others and a resigning attitude of “Am I really making a difference here?” I have found that the potential for discouragement does not lessen with age. In fact the challenges associated with aging can actually intensify periods of discouragement.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers several months after his rather short period of ministry there. We are told that during this time of ministry “some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women” (Acts 17:4). But we have no calculation of the number actually converted or any discipling activity following this or setting a church in order. There’s certainly no record of a church building being erected (which is the case in the entire early church).
Paul and his ministry associates were run out of town shortly after he began to see the fruit of his labor. What chance would the fledgling group have to survive or to sustain and develop into a church of believers?
But when Paul, along with Silas and Timothy, sets out to write a letter to “the church of the Thessalonians” he placed his confidence in God and was assured that his ministry to the Thessalonians had not been a failure. He wrote, “You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure” (2:1) Another version states, “For you yourselves know, brethren, our coming to you was not in vain.”
What a wonderful assurance to have in spite of the apparent setbacks and disappointments Paul had encountered and we all encounter in life. “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, as we faithfully serve You it is not for our fulfillment but for the fulfillment of the Great Commission that the Gospel message be delivered at home and abroad to the outermost parts of the earth. No matter our Christian service, whether great or small, when it is offered in Your name it brings reward, often visible here and now but at times unseen by the human eye. Help us to go forth in confidence and walk in obedience as we seek to glorify Your name. Amen.
“It’ll Be Worth It All After All” Video Terry Terrell This has a really country sound with some interesting lyrics that speak a powerful word.
“It Will Be Worth It All When We See Jesus” Video Tim Phipps (This is the version that I really enjoy singing as a hymn.
“What A Day That Will Be” Video
“What A Day That Will Be” Video This is an interesting video and includes video segments by some old-timers that provide an interesting perspective concluding with a powerfu version of the shong by the Homecoming Singers. Song only
Ronn Moyer’s book “Swimming With Crocodiles” can be ordered here.