by Muriel Larson
Have you ever gotten discouraged in your service for the Lord? I know I have felt that way sometimes. At such times I remind myself of the far view!
I remember the first time my husband and I saw the parsonage of a small country church that was looking for a pastor. We couldn't believe our eyes! It was an old, partly-whitewashed, pieced-together shack with a tin roof-the most disreputable-looking place we had ever seen!
"It doesn't look like much on the outside," said the parishioner (who lived in a lovely ranch house next door), "but it's not too bad on the inside."
"And it does have hot and cold running water and an indoor bathroom," added her husband. At the time we didn't know that was more than some parishioners had!
Then the lady tapped me on the shoulder. "Turn around," she said, "and look!" She waved her arm in a sweeping motion. "Isn't that the most gorgeous view you have ever seen?" We looked out from that high ridge upon miles and miles of fields, trees, and valleys. "You can even see the next state from here," declared the lady.
"And look this other way!" We did as she suggested. That view almost took our breath away, it was so majestic.
We were what might be called "fools for Christ." My husband accepted the pastorate. His salary was very low, but farm products such as meat, chicken, and vegetables would be given us by the people. A wood-burning stove in the living room heated the four rooms of the "parsonage." We also had huge black spiders that especially liked the bathroom. Also, a neighbor killed a 23-rattle rattlesnake in our garden! (Well, at least he got it before I did!)
But oh, the far view! How it thrilled and rested my soul to look out at it, in any and all seasons! During the winter, the dark outline of trees stood out starkly from the sparkling white snow, with an intensely blue sky overhead. During the spring, wherever one looked, one could see the pink and white blossoms of apple and cherry trees, the lime-green of freshly-budded foliage, and new shoots of corn coming up in the fields. In the summer the corn grew tall, the blackberries and gooseberries in the valley ripened, and cows grazed contentedly. In the fall, the maples were a riot of color, as were the sunsets. Yes, the far view was beautiful!
What is the far view for those of us who love and serve the Lord? I have found various facets through my own experiences:
In every church my husband pastored we both found fertile fields of souls to harvest for Jesus. In that country church my husband and I cooperated with a couple in our church who headed the youth work. Periodically they would host a social at their farm for children or teenagers. My husband and I would go far and wide picking up children.
One evening the social included a hayride under a harvest moon, followed by delicious refreshments prepared by the wife. I brought a devotional talk. Present was a 13-year-old wheelchair-bound boy with muscular dystrophy. Although he and his family didn't attend our church, or any other, our women's missionary group had brought him a box of gifts and goodies a month before. I had tucked in a Gospel of John.
Daniel listened attentively to my message, which included the story of Jesus and His great salvation. When I said that anyone could come to Jesus and receive Him as Savior, Daniel interrupted: "Please, Mrs. Larson, can I receive Him right now?"
I stopped right there, spoke further to Daniel, and then led him in a prayer to receive Jesus. When he lifted his head, his face was radiant.
A month later Daniel went to be with his Savior; and his parents and six sisters started attending our church.
In other churches the Lord gave me opportunities to help many children come to Christ, especially through Vacation Bible School. And of course I was able to help women come to Him too, and disciple them through home Bible studies.
In that country church I also served as a teacher and started a library. And my husband and I also cleaned the church (keeps you humble!). Through leading the 4-H choir (we won second place in the annual competition), I was able to reach out into the community, which added some new members to our church.
In other churches I served as unpaid organist, pianist, choir director; church secretary; director of Vacation Bible School; visitor, counselor, devotional bringer; plus filling in wherever necessary. My husband also had his varied work to do.
Serving the Lord with my life has been wonderful to me; but life is not particularly easy for those who steadfastly serve the Lord in any way. Along with the beautiful far view we enjoy, we may suffer bumps and bruises, criticisms and disappointments, depressing circumstances. But our Lord never promised His servants easy lives.
The Apostle Paul was glad to be a "fool for Christ." In Second Corinthians 11 he tells of the opposition, slander, and hardships he had endured for the sake of his Lord. He had been flogged, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, constantly in danger. Actually, the lives of most of those who serve Christ today are like picnics compared to Paul's life!
So cheer up; keep looking to Jesus and the ultimate far view! Paul wrote, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix out eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (1 Cor. 4:17,18).
If we give up and opt to live for this life only, we may enjoy temporal conveniences and pleasures. But if we keep our eyes on the far view-Jesus, eternity, and what the impact of our lives and services might have on many precious souls-we'll enjoy peace, joy, and satisfaction that few in this world know.Muriel Larson has authored 17 Christian books and has had thousands of first and reprint writings and songs published. As "Dr. Muriel," she gives advice by email to the readers of Campus Crusade's Christian Women Today online magazine, as well as their Women Today Online.
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