In a little over a month, our daughter Katy will leave to spend her fall semester studying in Italy. There she will complete classes for her Biblical Studies major, including studying the Italian Reformation in the land where it all took place. After that, she hopes to spend another semester in Germany and Switzerland during the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. I’m more than a little envious, but also flabbergasted at the opportunities God has given Katy in her young life. It’s way beyond me!
My own story is that of a farm girl with great parents who struggled their entire lives to save the family farm following tough economic times. Dad worked three and four part-time jobs in addition to farming in order to support us. Mom ran a preschool and sold sweet corn by the side of the road. My parents built into us the value of pursuing a college education, though I’m certain they had no idea how they would provide it. Thankfully, my brother was offered a baseball scholarship t0 Ohio State and I followed two years later through the Pell and Ohio Instructional Grants. The education we received was way beyond us.
This past Sunday I sat with my cousin in her parents’ yard on part of the family farm and marveled at the opportunities our kids have been given. Her own daughter Kiersten has recently returned from a trip to Germany, visiting on a grant to study the health of the church 25 years after the destruction of the Berlin wall. At the age of 20, Kiersten traveled ALONE to Germany and met some incredible people. It was way beyond her.
Each of my four daughters is way beyond where I was at her age. Each has been privileged with training and opportunity. Each has been taught that the gospel is the most important possession she has been given, and each will have opportunities to steward that message. Each can take her talents and change the world.
I’m writing because I’m thrilled for my daughters and for hundreds of thousands like them. The days we live in seem confusing at best and terrifying at worst, but the opportunities reach way beyond confusion and fear. We live in a time when, like never before in history, our daughters and sons can influence others around the globe with the gospel message. I know many young people doing just that. I’m proud of them. God is giving opportunity way beyond our own means…
and this confusion in the world, it’s not outside His control.
People search out answers during confusing times. God can use their searching to turn people toward the gospel. And guess what? Many young people will be prepared to tell others the life-changing message of that gospel.
I found this prayer by Hannah Berry Smith, an African American former slave who gained her freedom and later traveled the world with the gospel message:
“I pray that many of my own people will be led to a more full consecration, and that the Spirit of the Lord may come upon some of the younger women who have talent, and who have better opportunities than I will ever have, and so must do better work for the Master; so that when I have fallen in battle, and can do no more, they may take up the standard and bear it on, with the inscription deeply engraved on heart and life, ‘Without Holiness, no man shall see the Lord'” (from: An Autobiography: The Story of the Lord’s Dealings with Mrs. Amanda Smith). Photo credit:
Isn’t that a great prayer? Though her language may be from a century ago, the truth of Amanda’s prayer remains the same. I pray God will take my daughters, both biological and spiritual, way beyond me. I pray He will use you also, reader, and those who come behind you to take up the message of hope and scatter it to the ends of the earth. Your influence can extend way beyond yourself by being an encouragement and a spiritual mentor (discipler) to someone whose opportunities will surpass your own.
And watch God work. It is, after all, His work. And its way beyond us.