VISION - on a Wing and a Prayer?
As I write this article, I am flying from Morocco back to the UK on the second leg of our return flight from Freetown, Sierra Leone after an amazing ten days of ministry and mission in this country that has emerged from two major crises in the last 20 years - an 11 year 'rebel war' ( one one occasion 10,000 rebels overran the capital Freetown and 5,000 were slaughtered ) and 18months of Ebola with a further 4,500 fatalities. As I sit in middle of the plane I look out at the wing of the plane and am reminded of the expression ' on a wing and a prayer '. What does it mean? Just hanging on, but for the grace of God... At the end of our tether, the Almighty is there...?
Facing the prospect of death concentrates the mind about what life is all about. What is worth living for and dying for? You gain a different perspective on life. What really matters? Rob Parsons, the founder of Care for the Family, is famous for one saying especially from his seminars and books on family life : 'No-one on his deathbed ever said "I wish I had spent more time at the office!" '. What really matters is of course our relationships within our family and especially with our Creator.
In the Anglican Church in Freetown, and I suspect in all other churches, you will often hear the greeting : 'God is good.' The response is : 'all the time'. They are thankful to just be alive, despite their many problems and deprivations - uncertain power supply and water provision.... There is plenty of food but not enough jobs to provide an income. Many live on 'a wing and a prayer'. Give us this day our daily bread is a reality for many.... Yet despite this uncertainty, there is a thankful spirit to the Creator and much joy in relationships. 'Spiritually rich yet materially poor' is how we may describe many developing nations like Sierra Leone, whereas the Western World is often the reverse. Our material prosperity blinds us to our spiritual and relational poverty.
So, as our churches now have their annual meetings, to review the past year, hear reports and appoint officers for the coming year, what is OUR vision? Will it be 'on a wing and a prayer' - make it up as we go along, trusting the Almighty to see us through or more intentional. Jesus' last words to His disciples give us clear direction - 'As the Father sent me, so I send you..' John 20: , 'Go and make disciples of all nations...' Matthew 28:19,20 and 'You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.' Acts 1:8. How we go, in what spirit and attitude is as important as what we say and do, starting in our own 'Jerusalem' - just where we are. The Great Commission of Matthew 28 assumes also that we are seeking to obey also the Great Commandment 'Love one another as I have loved you...' John 13:34,35.
But what also is your personal vision for your life, however many days you may have left on earth? As I found myself saying on many occasions recently in Sierra Leone, in taxis and on the street and other places ' God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life...' Jeremiah said something similar to the exiles in Babylon ‘I know the plans I have for you... to give you a future and a hope.’ 29:13. Don't miss it!