They stood patiently in line, waiting to greet me after my camp meeting sermon, smiles and embraces ready. “Nineteen years,” they reminded me—19 years since we had last seen each other.
It took several seconds for the memory bank to activate, to recall the laughing eyes, the ready wit, the openheartedness that had always marked this couple. Back then, I had been their pastor, sometimes wondering if there would be lasting results from the challenging round of Bible studies, preaching, and pastoral visits that filled my days.
“He baptized us, and then he performed our wedding a few months later,” they beamed to strangers standing nearby. “He was our first pastor.” They handed me a midsized envelope, with instructions to open it later. Later they also found me in the cafeteria, and introduced me to their 16-year old daughter, a lovely young woman of whom they are understandably proud.
Back in my hotel room, I stared at the pictures of their 18-year old son, just graduated from high school, planning on attending an Adventist college this September. The boy who smiled back at me from the photograph shared the same laughing eyes, the same easy smile. A news clipping that fell out from among the pictures alerted me that it is his life’s ambition to work for ADRA (the Adventist Development and Relief Agency).
The weariness of the long day washed away as I stared at the pictures and let my mind drift back to events two decades earlier. And had I wondered if God could bring results for His kingdom out of my daily work for Him? “Cast your bread upon the waters,” the wise man once urged us, “for you will find it after many days” (Eccl. 11:1). Centuries later, Jesus underscored the same truth: “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how” (Mark 4:26-27).
“Nothing is ever wasted in God’s economy,” someone has observed. Millions of believers around the globe—pastors and pediatricians, evangelists and educators, administrators and auto mechanics—affirm this truth as God allows them the surprising joy of glimpsing what has grown from their witness to Jesus Christ.
Sometime soon, on this earth or in the earth made new, you too will be reminded of the grace that forms each link in the bond of faith. And in the joy of that moment—when you see what God has done with your witness—you will bless each day that you have labored for the Master.