Paths to the Future
By Grace Andrews of Independence, MO, USA
Oh, there is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth…He will tell you about the future…. -John 16:12-13 NLT
I must have been very small when I first saw the large, colorful, missionary chart strung from corner to corner across our living room, too big to fit on one wall. My father purchased the chart from someone passing through our town, perhaps from Independence. It must have cost him dearly in those poor times, but he saw value in it as a missionary tool. Dad only had an eighth-grade education, but he studied his scriptures until the books were threadbare. Then he invited people to come view this large mural and hear the gospel story as it was taught in the early 1900s. The huge chart described two paths-the narrow path showed all the virtues required for a soul to get to heaven. The broader path listed all perceived sins that would surely take one to hell. In time, these theology teachings of earlier days needed to grow into further truth.
Dad felt a deep urgency to protect the chart. He and mother owned a tent and awning company from 1930-1950 where she sewed canvas awnings, tarps, etc., on big sewing machines with quadruple needles. She was glad to make a special canvas bag for the chart, and after each viewing, the chart was carefully placed in the bag until the next use. The chart was eventually entrusted to me. Though I kept it securely tucked away in a closet in the canvas bag, I began to feel it was somehow wrong for me to keep it. So I donated it to the Temple in Independence. Our church theologian, Tony Chvala-Smith, took an interest in it, as it was so well preserved. He and his wife Charmaine have taken it all over the world as a visual aid in conducting classes to compare our church’s past and present theology.
From conversations with my dad before he died, I was sad to realize he did not feel he’d done anything particularly important in life. I know differently. He did many worthwhile things, one of which was being a spiritual father to me and my brothers. Among his many other generous deeds was sharing knowledge from that old missionary chart to the best of his ability and preserving it for the future. I hope he is smiling from heaven now, knowing he contributed more than he realized for those who followed after and to the church he loved so well.
“Awake, my soul!” (Psalm 57:8 NRSV)
The Prayer of the Heart
Early Christian disciples desired to take seriously the scripture mandate to pray “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The prayer of the heart invites us to pray “continuously” by repeating and returning to a prayer phrase planted for intentional reflection and deepening. Choose a word or phrase (from scripture, hymnody, or personal reflection) that has meaning for you. The Jesus Prayer is one form of the prayer of the heart: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” (Luke 18:35-43). Invite this simple phrase to repeat in your heart throughout the day, awakening your soul to God’s presence.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.