Driving away for the last time from our home in Silver Grove and seeing the sign in front of the church elicited a new wave of emotion and nostalgia. It was here in this little river town we had invested almost seven years of our lives. We had forged new friendships, seen many lives changed, and shared weddings, births, and deaths with our congregation. The celebration was over, the boxes were packed, the goodbyes had been said. All that lacked was a final drive through town and the road ahead of us. We drove out Highway Eight, up Industrial Road and out to the interstate, anticipating the future that God had called us to.
Anticipating the Future
The next week became a marathon of exhaustion and sore muscles as we sought to fit all our belongings into a storage unit, small utility building, and a 30′ travel trailer. Most of these items we knew we’d not see for at least a year as we embarked upon this new period of ministry opportunities.
Those last few days at our home on wheels became a time of visiting with family, rest and reflection, and spiritual preparation to go forward.
On our first Sunday away from being the Pastor of First Baptist, Silver Grove we attended services with our youngest daughter and her family in Somerset, Kentucky.
Immediately following that service, we drove a short distance to another church where we knew the pastor. When we had served the Liberty Baptist Church in Auburn, Kentucky, Scott Hughes was a youngster who attended our Vacation Bible Schools. What a treat to be with him and hear him boldly proclaim the message of Christ.
Eubank Baptist Church, Eubank, Kentucky
Entering the Mission Field
Many times we have seen similar signs posted at the exit doors of churches, but as we left the parking lot on this particular Sunday, we took this to heart in a very special way. For the past fifty years we had known what we would be doing each week. Sheldon would be praying and preparing a sermon to share with his congregation. I would be the helpmate assisting him in caring for our home, children, and using my gifts within the church family. But now – he was not the pastor. Now, I was not the pastors wife. Our path forward was uncharted.
Our Mission Statement
Many years earlier we had prayed about a mission statement for us to adopt as our own. We wanted to incorporate into our outreach ministry, a vision of hope. There’s nothing more debilitating than repeatedly bumping into obstacles in family, marriage, church, the workplace and everyday life issues that cause us to feel a sense of hopelessness. God’s Word is chock full of passages that will bring hope to our souls. One of my favorite passages is where the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed in ancient times, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).
On occasions when I have discovered feeling a bit overwhelmed, God has always sent someone to assist. The assistance might have come in the form of a hug, a meal, a babysitter, a twenty-dollar bill, or an enthusiastic, “I can help, what do you need?” When my mother was killed in a terrible accident twenty-four years ago, there were those who became our immediate first responders in assisting us in the physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual needs which confronted us. Paul says it like this, “Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ ” (Galatians 6:2). Part of our mission statement is to be ready to assist others in whatever way we can.
There’s just nothing like laughter to heal wounded hearts, disappointments, and frustrations. Life is truly funny when you look for the oddities in this world. Even David with all his personal battles states, “A merry heart does good like a medicine:” (Proverbs 17:22). We aren’t quick-witted with humor like some of my family and friends, but we can almost always find something to laugh about. Deep down laughter is such a great healer for the hurting soul. The end of that same verse states, “but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” When life gets sticky, or messy, find the funny. It’ll be there if you look for it.
Let’s face it. We all face discouragement on occasion. It’s almost like a dark cloud off in the distance that hovers on the peripheral, just waiting to envelope us in a fog of exhaustion and despondency. We live in a time when the pace is hectic, the burdens heavy, the responsibilities unrelenting, and the daily disappointments many. I love reading the writings of Paul to Timothy as he is sharing encouragement. My mother used some of those words on the day I left for college. She wrote in the front cover of my Bible, “O [Ritchie], keep that which is committed to thy trust…” (I Timothy 6:20). When that cloud of discouragement hovers, take to heart that our ever-present heavenly Father promises nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God – not death, life, angels, powers, things present or in the future, not height, not depth, – nothing. (Romans 8:38-39)
The Uncharted Journey
When we embarked upon this new adventure of missions, our church sent us off with a precious day of Celebrating the Present, Remembering the Past, and Anticipating the Future. We look forward to each day as we discover new avenues of ministry and opportunities to assist and encourage others. God has promised us that He will do “exceedingly, abundantly, above all we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
With our mission statement in place, we are anticipating the future with joy and excitement. We can’t wait to share the adventures we will discover on this uncharted journey.
What about you? Have you ever thought about making a mission statement for your life, or the life of your family? If so, I’d love to hear about it.