Friday, May 29, 2015
“I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” — Robert Frost from the poem “The Road Not Taken”
Knowing the future can be a good thing or not. We know what we are going to be doing for the rest of our lives and that is a very good thing. We may not know how, when, where, or in what form, but we will be serving God having answered His call, “Who will go for us?” When we first married, I was selling Jewel Tea (a delivery grocery service) in West Texas. That lasted about three months. For the next twenty years, I worked at various professions, teaching, working with mental health, mobile medical facilities, and writing for Hollywood and television. From 1981 to 1988 I was a Ph.D. student at the University of Arkansas while teaching and working in the deans offices of both the College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences (neither college had a name then), but in 1988 we moved to Boston and for the next four years I was a seminary student, part-time local pastor, and part-time teacher at Boston University. I was graduated in 1992 and had only recently learned I would be a parish pastor in Northwest Arkansas. That lasted for ten years and four churches in four towns. I lost my job as an associate pastor at a big church in 2002 and still didn’t know for sure what I was going to do or what the future held in store. Then, in 2003, my wife and I went on a mission trip to Tanzanian and God showed us our future. We went back to the U.S. so Karen could retire on full benefits in 2005 and moved to Bunda, Tanzania within one month of her retirement. We didn’t know then (and still aren’t sure) exactly what our mission would be except that it would be to serve the Methodist church and the people, especially the children, of Tanzania. We have been doing that ever since and will do it till we die here. Karen wants her ashes scattered in Lake Victoria, and I want mine scattered on the hills behind our house which overlook Lake Victoria so I can keep an eye on Karen. Two of my sons have said they will take some of my ashes to the top of Kilimanjaro so that both the final resting places of their parents can be seen from space. Big talk, but who knows. What we do know is that serving God by serving others living in poverty, strife, and who learned of Christ's love has made us happier than we have ever been in our whole lives. We did a lot of living in our first forty years together, but nothing like we have done in the last ten years and plan to do for as many more as we can. God may have started calling us fifty years ago, but we only started really listening about ten years ago, but that trip in 2003 was like the poem quoted above by Robert Frost. We took the road less traveled and it has made the most incredible and wonderful difference that we have ever experienced. You can only know where God is calling you, or what God is calling you to do if you listen, and therein lies the rub. It’s hard to listen to God in today’s world, especially if you live in the industrialized world and your problems have to do with texting, wifi hot spots, the Starbucks menu, and how your sports team is faring. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. We urge you to listen and to look for the road God is calling you to travel. It may not be one you would normally choose, but if God is calling you that way and you follow, you will never regret it.