Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” But oh, how easy it is to slip into feelings of failure and self-pity!
Because of my multiple sclerosis (MS), I have to take a nap every afternoon. (Actually, it’s a blessing!) When we were in Mexico, it often became a time of meditation and prayer, and occasionally turned into a tearful release of emotions. One afternoon I lay on my back on the bed, the ceiling fan blowing over my fatigued and sweaty body. After pouring out our lives to these people, we were just not seeing the harvest we longed for. I asked God if we were not where He wanted us to be. Surely He wanted these people to be saved. Why would He allow me to waste my life in a fruitless ministry? I cried out to Him to show me if He had any plans for this town. I’m not a person who asks for signs; I just needed some encouragement to keep pressing on. A peace came with the prayers and tears.
A short time later, perhaps within two or three weeks, we had houseguests. For some reason, I awoke very early before anyone else. I was so annoyed with God! I had MS and I needed sleep! Why couldn’t He intervene? In order to not arouse the household, I went out front in my bathrobe to water the flowers in my 3-by-6-foot front yard. It was so early that I wasn’t really concerned about being seen in a bathrobe—as a rule, Mexicans don’t rise early. After a few minutes, a neighbor lady came zooming along the street in her VW bug. She swooped her car over to the sidewalk near me, got out of her car, and in tears asked, “How can I find God?” I was so flabbergasted that I was speechless. I was in Mexico to tell people exactly that, but because of my self-absorption, I was not prepared. We talked and prayed, and for the next few weeks she studied the Bible with me, eventually finding forgiveness for her sins in Christ.
Not too much later we were sitting on the curb on a warm evening chatting and watching the children play in the street. I told her of a time in my life that I had been really down, though not suicidal. To my surprise, she told me that the morning she had first come to me seeking God she had been on her way to drive off a cliff or something. When she saw me, she thought of a time our family had invited some neighbors to our home at Christmas, and she remembered something “different” about the feeling there. She knew she could find help. And she did.
I knew then that the Lord was encouraging me. He had used us at Christmas—we thought all our efforts had been fruitless. He woke me that morning so I would be outside—I thought He ought to let me sleep. He had worked His plan without letting me know about it. I should have felt remorse for my lack of faith, for my demanding attitude, but I was exhilarated and encouraged. He had answered my prayer! He was using us. I would remember this and not lose heart in the future. God is in control. I don’t need to know His plans; I will be His faithful servant, persevering because I know He will do what He decides to do “at the proper time.” From time to time He will give us a glimpse of what He is doing because He knows our frailty, but we won’t really know until heaven how much He did through our lives.