There has been a time or two since arriving here in South Africa that I have really missed my profession as a speech pathologist. It was never just a job for me; I really loved my patients and the work I did with them. It gave me such joy when a goal was met, a breakthrough was made, and lives were changed.
It stuck me as odd then, that I should contrast it to what I’m doing now rather than compare it. I mean, I love this life too. And I've never felt more in the middle of God's plan for my life than I do right here, right now. God is speaking grand pictures into my heart that are formless whispers I'm unable to yet make out, and it's beautiful and exciting. So why, then, does my call here as a missionary feel different than before? After some reflection, I came to the realization that it felt different because in my previous line of work, I was able to calculate, even document growth and success. I could clearly see the harvest of what I had invested in those children.
Here, so far, my ministry is that of sowing-the harvest is yet to be seen.
Growing up on a farm in Northern Wisconsin, I saw my dad plant crops every spring. One might not think about it much, surely as a child I didn’t, but there was so much planning and calculation that went into that process. Making sure the ground was ready for planting. Which seed to buy and how much, which crop to be planted in which field, and at what time? If it was too early, a late frost might destroy what was planted. If too late, the harvest wouldn’t have time to grow to its full potential. And even if the field was planted at just the right time, it was still a risk. Perhaps there would be flooding. Perhaps there would be a drought. Perhaps a hail-storm, or a crop disease. But the benefits outweighed the risks, and so my dad got on the tractor, headed out to the fields, and planted those seeds faithfully each year.
When I was still Stateside, God led me through an incredible journey of building and deepening my faith. Subconsciously, perhaps I assumed it was the end or a pause of that journey once I made it here to South Africa. Only now I plainly see it was only the training ground for the Kingdom work He has for me here-the work of a sower.
This assignment as a sower requires an incredible exercise of faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Perhaps I’ll have the opportunity to see-to watch the growth and be part of the harvesting-only God and time will reveal. But for now, I must cling to faith. I must believe that God will do what He says He is going to do. I must believe that if God has called me to this work, it couldn’t possibly be in vain, regardless of what I see or do not see. I must take Him at His word, believing His promises to be true-believing by His promises and not by my sight.
The benefits always outweigh the risks when God is in it. The joy is different, yes, but it is still there. So I will continue walking in the fields-eyes closed, heart full, hands open, pressing the seeds into the ready dirt.