‘THERE MUST BE A BEGYNNYNG OF ANY GREAT MATTER, BUT THE CONTENEWING UNTO THE END UNTYLL IT BE THOROUGHLY FFYNYSHED YELDES THE TREW GLORY.’
- Sir Francis Drake 1587
On Sunday Daughter # 4 and I attended the opening of the new OMF/JECA church plant in Hanamaki.
The missionaries had seemingly worked hard to co-ordinate and co-operate with churches and Christian workers in the area.
The sermon (given by one of our favorite pastors from Aomori) was excellent.
There was a good crowd and I enjoyed the fellowship – especially with Christians from Iwate Prefecture, many of whom knew my husband from the tsunami relief work.
Of course, other things would come bubbling up… Worldly, unworthy thoughts and yet, truly my thoughts. “They get 4 workers (2 singles and a couple) for their team. Why can’t we have 1 or (too wonderful!) 2 workers? They get this infusion of workers (6 in one church) for a ‘jump start.’ Why can’t we have workers for a ‘jump finish?!’”
And that brought me to Francis Drake (and less worldly thoughts – though I still want the the fellow workers!)
When we started in Ajigasawa in 1985 an OMF retiree wrote us a letter and enclosed a beautifully written prayer based on those words of Francis Drake. I haven’t seen the originals in many years but the copy hangs on our bedroom wall by my desk.
I sometimes wonder… Who was Arthur Sanders? What had he seen that made him choose these words? And why did he choose us to bestow them on?
Because I’m not sure I would/could have stayed in Japan - and certainly not in Ajigasawa - without this prophetic word.
Everyone loves a beginning – especially an exciting one. And our beginning was exciting. But how few in my generation ever really reflect – AND BELIEVE – that “it is not the Beginning but the Continuing of the same unto the End, until it be thoroughly finished, which yieldeth the true glory.”
Until it be thoroughly finished… That sometimes makes for a long Middle Time! And there comes a point when you realize that the excited crowd that gathered to watch you begin has moved on to the next exhilarating beginning.
Between the exhilaration of Beginning
And the satisfaction of Concluding
Is the Middle Time
Of Enduring .. Changing .. Trying
Despairing.. Continuing .. Becoming.
I hope that my colleagues are prepared for the long haul: the enduring, changing, trying, and yes despairing – and yet CONTINUING.
When the crowd moves on to the next Beginning and the next … and so many “New Beginnings” (that so seldom work out as first anticipated and, sadly, are often abandoned by their most earnest propagators) … may my colleagues then fix their eyes on Jesus and still run with perseverance the race that they have so recently begun.
Until it yields the true glory of a race well-finished!