Our hearts were pounding as we swung around each bend of the dusty road. My parents, siblings, and I were on our very first backpacking trip and we had high hopes for this trek. We were going to a place called Elk Flats. It sounded like a promising spot for beginner backpackers. We expected spacious plains dotted with elk. But when we got to the trailhead, our mouths dropped open. It was actually a huge, steep-sided canyon. It looked like a giant chisel had carved it all the way down and the trail was just one big round of long switchbacks all the way down.
We hardly noticed the weight on our backs as we started, but it only took about half an hour before we started feeling those forty-pound pressing into our shoulders. By the time we reached the bottom of the canyon, we were dead tired.
Next morning, we looked at our heavy packs and thought, “You know, we didn’t drink all the water in our packs coming down. How about just five of us take water in our packs and we’ll share as we go along and there will be less weight to carry.” That was a major mistake. It turned out to be a sweltering hot day. We ran out of water about half-way up the steep canyon and the sun was scorching us. I remember being drenched in sweat and counting the paces as we walked along, thinking, “Ah, I’m going to die!” And then throwing down my pack and almost falling asleep right there in the middle of the trail. When we finally caught sight of the truck, we were overjoyed and much wiser.
This story illustrates the truth that we have to live with the consequences of our decisions. The Bible often speaks of it in terms of sowing and reaping. One classic text is Galatians 6:7, 8: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” And 2 Corinthians 9:6 says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”
In other words, we receive what we put into a project. That works both in the type of results we receive and also in the measure of results we receive. But, according to these texts, knowing what to sow also involves knowing what we want to reap—Holding up a vision or destination for us to work towards as a team. That’s why as a church, we need a Bible-based, informed mission statement that captures what we’re about in our different community.
And when you think about it, every decision we make as a church plays into or against that mission somehow. Whether it’s an administrative decision, or financial decision, or education decision, or facility decision, they all can have a real effects on carrying out Christ’s commission. Christ’s marching orders are plain enough in Matthew 28:18-20:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Let’s all keep the great commission close by as we face the future opportunities and challenges as a church.