Sometimes fruit is hard to come by. Not the kind of fruit that’s cheap and delicious at the markets here, but the kind of fruit that makes you stop for a second and feel like God is really using you to do something in people’s lives. Conversations with staff a Alliance throughout the time we’ve been here have revealed a very common thread of thought and experience – are we doing anything here that matters? Am I making any difference even during seasons when my work feels insignificant?
Doug and I have often struggled with the same thing in our ministry here. In many ways we are just one more set of cogs that make the system that is Alliance Academy work. We fill a spot that needs to be filled. Sometimes that alone is enough to get me through the day. God asks who will go and do this, and we said we would so here we are. But often times it can feel like we are pouring ourselves out and not getting to see whether it’s doing any good. I sometimes wish this feeling wouldn’t crop up because it feels so human, so nearsighted. In my mind I know that we often don’t ever get to see the results of our work, the impact we have on people’s lives, and we need to learn to trust that God has a plan. But sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged or to lose our grasp on the truth that God is always doing something bigger than us.
This past week I was meeting with a parent about something else entirely and they suddenly commented, “My daughter absolutely loves Doug’s class… she’s so eager to go to it and she thinks he’s just great at what he does. I guess I should probably tell him that sometime.” Yes, you should! But what a gift for me to get to hear that. Not only does it make me even more proud of and thankful for my husband but it gave me a glimpse into the impact he’s having in students’ lives. A couple weeks ago another teacher commented something similar to me: “High schoolers keep telling me how much they love Doug’s classes and that he’s one of their favorite teachers. He teaches, but he also treats them like people and is real with them. Be sure to tell him that.” Once I finished basking in these comments, I stopped to reflect on the fact that neither of those words of encouragement came from the students themselves, nor did they get directed towards the person they were about. Occasionally students will thank me for listening to them or being there for them, but for the most part we don’t get much feedback from those whom we are pouring into the most. If it wasn’t for the gift of other adults who can speak encouragement into us, we may have never gotten that feedback. Put simply, teenagers can be really difficult to minister to. Yet, I’m being reminded they are also some of the most fertile ground in which to sow seeds that will one day bear fruit.
I’m trying to learn to be less nearsighted. To be less affected by thoughts of what difference I’m making and whether I should be doing more, and more immersed in wondering what God is doing. I think that’s a lesson I’m continually having to learn. Yet even in the midst of teaching us that, God is gracious to allow us occasional glimpses into what He’s doing. If I’m grateful, excited and proud of how Doug is allowing himself to be used, I can only imagine God’s perspective as He unfolds stories in lives here.
And now I’m going to post this before Doug finds out I’ve been talking about him.
(Photo courtesy of Backpack Me)
February 19, 2014 Ecuador