My mom has always told us about the families who would take her to church growing up, and about her best friend’s family who would “be the church” to her. She said she was comforted there; they took care of her often, providing a safe place and steady examples of Christ’s love.
And, I wonder – when those folks looked at that teenage girl in a tough spot, did they think about the daughters and son who would come behind her? I wonder if they knew that being bridge-builders then would help carve a path to the Divine for me today?
Could they see us coming on the horizon?
Once there was a man named Elijah who God told some important news: the drought would be over, and it would rain. So, Elijah went to Mount Carmel and prayed and waited for that fulfillment.
And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times. And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” (1 Kings 18:42-43)
There it was – a little cloud.
But Elijah didn’t just see a fist-sized cloud and leave it at that. Elijah’s vision extended beyond the obvious, beyond the present sight, to the massive rain storm that was on its way. Elijah knew the cloud was not the answer but the sign given for what was coming behind the cloud.
And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’ And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.” (1 Kings 18:44)
Friends, when we see little cloud-puffs, do we assume that’s God’s answer and leave it at that? Or, do we know by Faith that more, much more, is coming just beyond what our eyes can see?
Because this is what we need to know, what I wish someone could’ve told my younger self:
Being a bridge-builder means having the vision to see deep, not just wide.
Yes, we can scan the sky and keep our eyes peeled for more clouds. That’s wide vision. But deep vision means having Faith and patience to see what’s coming next – beyond what is.
Why does this matter? Because relational ministry is never bound by time. The mission field you’re standing on extends through years and space. That relationship you are building is, in God’s reality, a depth of souls, a legacy, a family tree in the making. You’ll likely never know them, but the work you’re doing now is impacting sons and daughters and grandkids and great-grandkids and beyond.
And this isn’t just about trusting God with the results of our obedience. Let me say it again – this is about vision. It’s about being able to see purpose beyond the present and allowing that vision to shape how we interact in this space of time.
Maybe we only see a fist-sized cloud; God sees a legacy rising up.
Don’t forget that. It matters. It matters now and it matters in the ages to come.
That one little life of a cloud puff may look minor on the wide frame of the sky. But, look deep: there is a line of souls coming next, lives whose path to the Divine are being carved out by the work before us today. Being a bridge-builder is not only for the present day; it’s for what follows this age and space of time.
So let’s pray for Elijah’s vision to give purpose and patience to our calling. And, let’s remember that the cloud came first, not finally.
Here is another post I wrote on this topic in May of 2015:
Outside my kitchen window a thick blanket of land has been stretched out. Last week, students and volunteers joined together to tuck potential just below the surface, planting hundreds of seeds on the 4 acres. We are calling it The Bridge Garden Training Project. It just so happens to be in my backyard.
So, every morning, I pour my coffee, and I look at the dirt. I squint my eyes and tell myself I see the green breaking through, ready to catch its first breath of sunlight that day. But, as of today, only a few sprouts have actually stood up high enough for me to see from my window.
Mostly, I’m just waiting.
I drink my coffee and go through my day and there is this frustratingly quiet voice that keeps pressing into my ears: “Wait. Just wait.”
Because it’s not about the garden after all.
It’s about the unknowns of the summer ministry plans, and parenting, and the emails I’m waiting on that determine some other decisions. It’s about the phone calls that haven’t come through, and the event that just needs to get behind me, and the meetings that need to happen.
It’s about my restless hands that want to make something just happen already.
Truth is, I’d love to paw away some of the dirt and confusion and just see for myself how those seeds are doing – the seeds of relationships, decisions, prayers prayed, plans pending.
So, I sip my coffee today and I ask God to keep my hands still and my heart quiet. To pry my fingers open and release the seeds that simply need to be laid down, relinquished to His control.
What about you, friend? Today, can you picture the fields of your life stretched out before your window? There are seeds planted there. Your hopes and goals and plans. Maybe some have sprouted and are growing tall and strong. But maybe there are a few rows that look endlessly empty, almost barren. It’s those rows that your eyes fall on each morning, and it’s those rows that cause you to question if there is something, anything will ever grow there.
But this is what we can’t forget, as we wring our hands in the waiting:
Life is there, just beneath the surface of time. And, the One who shook the earth’s foundation with His glorious resurrection-sprouting is at work in your field, in your heart, in your life. There is power in void places – a life-power that filled a virgin’s womb and an empty tomb. So, don’t hesitate over the barren rows. Today, we wait, expecting a birth of His beauty and purpose.
In time, my friend, we will see fulfillment.
This month’s series is on being a bridge-builder. In short, it’s about how to be like certain individuals who let God show up in their words and deeds and forever changed our little family. But, it’s not a series about our story; it’s a series about how Redemption made our story useful, even valuable, in a greater story.
If Jay and I know anything about being a bridge-builder, it’s because we were the ones stuck on an island. If we understand anything about the power of meeting people where they are and standing in the gap, it’s because that’s how we were rescued – by God, through average people.