Like the old saying goes, “hindsight is 20/20.” It’s easy to see how one thing leads to another when you’re looking back. But as you’re going through it, we usually have to walk by faith and not by sight–certainly not 20/20 vision sight. So it’s remarkable to look back on years of happenings and experiences, and be able to trace an amazing connection from one to the other that led to more and more unexpected blessings. Like a series of fortunate events you didn’t even know was happening. All we can do is take things day-by-day and try to live our best. So when realize how God’s been building up and working on us inconspicuously for a long time, it’s truly inspiring.
Take our church’s wonderful Food Ministry as an example. In the summer of 2013, ABC Adventures Childcare was having a focus on service with their kids. They wanted to come to the church one day and put their service into action. So I came up with lots of “fun” things for them to do: vacuum, wash windows, tidy up, sharpen pencils in the pews, make coloring clipboards for kids, and donate canned food they had collected in a food drive. All were helpful.
We kept the canned food at the church for when we got calls or visitors who really needed some support. That was about 4 families a year. Not many, but it was nice to have a little something on hand when a person stopped by. Eventually we ran out of that first food donation, so we made connections with great folks at the local United Way, and later Feeding Franklin, who let us have boxes from their food drives so we could get restocked every few months for the few times we needed it.
In late 2015, our local Baptist association got a connection with the Food Bank in Raleigh that would provide a bag/box of food each month to as many families as we could give them out too, and at no charge! What a great opportunity, but what could we do about it? Well, as ideas were sparked and passions ignited, a Food Ministry Team was formed to discuss possibilities. “Why not try a Food Day once a month, where we give out what we have to whomever comes by?” It was a worth a shot. No, scratch that. We thought it was a decent idea, but it was actually the church following the nudging of the Holy Spirit.
Plans were made; Food Days happened. Plans were adjusted and improved; Food Days were great. The Lord kept providing and love kept being spread. At the beginning of 2016, we served 0-2 families a month at most. For our first Food Day in March 2016, we served 45 families. In May 2017 we had 60 families come. A lot of times we’re scrambling to get food, store food, pick up food, sort food, and fill out the paperwork. Sometimes we think, “What’ve we gotten ourselves into?” And I wonder when we ask that if God says, “I’ll tell you later. I’m busy working through you right now. You just keep showing my love. You’ll be fine.”
Over the last year we’ve made so many connections in our community. We’ve met people we would’ve never met before. Wonderful, joyful people who come by with smiles and gratitude on Food Days. Wonderful, hard-working people who contribute so our ministry can grow. We’ve made new friends, and we’ll continue to make new ones. Like our new friends, the cool Congolese folks at Restoration Baptist Church? We met them because of our Food Ministry. What we thought was happenstance, God was using to bless us. Who knows where it will take us next.
I share just some of that crazy, neat, surprising progression to inspire you on good days, and reassure you on tough days. Because some days, things don’t feel like they’re going anywhere; they’re certainly not neat or wonderful. Some days you might feel like you’re stuck, lost, or just making things up as you go. But know that God is not. God is working through you, if you are open and willing to follow that movement. What can feel routine or unimpressive now, might just be a link in an important chain of work and growth that happens over years and blesses you in wonderful unforeseen ways. You might not be able to see it now, but when you look back in hindsight at God’s work in your life, you’ll be amazed.