We often worry about expiration dates on medicine and food, and we should. There are some things however, that do not have an expiration date; their shelf life is limitless. One of those things is God’s calling on our lives. The Scripture says, “… for the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29)
The following story from Bryan Presson, a pastor and church planter working with refugees and immigrants from Burma, in Greensboro, NC, illustrates this truth. He shares this powerful story of God’s calling and of His faithfulness to those whom He calls.
“In the service of God, one often finds interesting coincidences as evidence of God’s grace working in our lives. This past Sunday, we had a special speaker from Burma/Myanmar at our church –the uncle of one of our members here in Greensboro. (Due to strict government control and the desire to protect the individuals involved, I cannot give names and places.) This man is the pastor of the “T” Karen Church in a mountainous part of Burma. His small village, “T” holds a special place in my heart, because it is where my wife Paula and I felt God speaking to us about ministering to the Burmese mountain hill tribes.
Back in 1985, Paula and I traveled there to connect with churches regarding a pastors training we were helping to set up. Back then, communication was difficult and dangerous, so personal contact was necessary. We traveled on an ancient overnight train, got off in the middle of nowhere, and took an eight hour ride in a pick-up truck through several treacherous mountain passes to get to the small village of “T.” On the way, we passed beautiful teak tree forests and village after village of poor tribal mountain people. Our hearts were touched by seeing so many people, but few, if any, churches. As we were burdened about these precious folks and wondering who would share the Gospel with them, we felt God began to speak to us about the Burmese. It seemed odd to us at the time, since we were working with the Thai people.
However, instead of connecting with any churches, as soon as we arrived in “T,” I became so ill with some tropical fever that I was unable to even move. Paula thought at one time I might not make it, but with God’s grace, prayer, and her nursing skills, I finally pulled through. However, I was so weak we had to leave, and were not able to go out to find the churches. We did eventually hold several pastors conferences in one of the main cities, but I always felt like a failure regarding “T” because I was unable to connect with anyone there at the time.
By God’s grace, we did ultimately work with Burmese/Karen hill tribes in Thailand, and now we have, by that same grace, planted a Burmese refugee Karen church here in Greensboro. Now, God, in his mercy and amazing grace, brought the pastor of the “T” church to the United States, to Greensboro, NC to speak in our church this past Sunday. Talking with Pastor H, he said he was actually in “T” in 1985 as a youth pastor.
Pastor H has invited me to come to his church sometime in the near future. The Karen here in Greensboro have been putting money in a “missions” offering box for years for the purpose of supporting mission efforts in their home towns and villages. The Karen have told me they want to take me back to their villages to preach the Gospel to their unsaved relatives and friends. Now I have an invitation to “T.” Perhaps after over 20 years, it is time to complete the visit I started so long ago, Lord willing.
God does not make mistakes! There are no coincidences in His providence. Everything works together for His sovereign purposes, especially the desires His Spirit places in our hearts. “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” (Psalms 37:4, 5 NASB)
When God calls, He is always faithful to complete His divine purpose. He doesn’t have expiration dates. We can trust Him to do what He promises. He will always come through for us. The difficulty we have is our understanding of His will, and our obedience to His calling. Perhaps the greatest promise of God’s faithfulness is found in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” (1 Thess.5:24).
The words to a favorite hymn say, “Great is Thy faithfulness, O Lord my Father. There is no shadow of turning with Thee.” Do we believe these words? Remember, you can trust Him. He is always faithful, even when we are not. His faithfulness never expires!