O Pioneers!

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Hebrews 11:13

On December 17, 2003, aviation enthusiasts gathered at Kill Devil Hill on the North Carolina coast to celebrate a century of powered flight. Although the weather held the replica of the Wright brothers’ Flyer on the ground, no one now questions there was a future in the endeavors of Orville and Wilbur. Of course, that’s twenty-twenty hindsight talking. Back in 1903, naysayers and critics abounded. I personally thought a more apt commemoration would have been a low pass in an F-16, with an afterburner climb that melted the sand into glass. In other words, a show of power and of progress.

The clumsy machines of those early aviators were pretty ridiculous compared to today’s sophisticated equipment, and it’s no wonder people laughed at both inventor and invention. But there always has to be a starting point, and the Lord Himself admonished us not to despise the day of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10). Spiritual matters are the same as earthly matters in this regard. There are visionaries and pioneers and there are naysayers and critics. If ever there was a hill that earned the name “Kill Devil”, it’s Calvary, and we better be careful of scoffing at any clumsy, faith-filled endeavors we observe there.

It’s too bad the Wright boys never got to ride in that F-16. To feel the G-forces pushing them into their seats until unconsciousness wrapped them in tight gray blankets. Or to punch through the sound barrier as easily as a hot knife through butter, though that now common feat took other pioneers years to realize. But that’s the way it is with the people who see things before the rest of us: They seldom get to see the full bloom of their husbandry. I say husbandry because visions and dreams are investments from the Lord into men and women. Whether natural or spiritual, it doesn’t matter. Every good gift is from God.

Truth to tell, visionaries aren’t the easiest people to be around, with their determined stomping to drumbeats the rest of us don’t hear. They can be annoying in their single-minded, narrowly focused passions. But even an old skeptic like me has enough sense to recognize that most of the blessings I enjoy, from being a woman working in what was once a man’s field to the priceless Word-based, revelation-inspired teaching I enjoy whenever I wish, are the hard-won victories of visionaries. I must be grateful at all times.

So embrace those pioneers. Even if you can’t quite understand what they’re about, don’t fight them. They are strangers and pilgrims who see promises from afar. Who knows if in encouraging them we might be sowing seeds from which we will reap harvests of new things in our own quiet lives. No one gives even a cup of water to a prophet except the Lord sees it and gives a prophet’s reward (Matthew 10:41).

And if you’ve been building your own little Flyer (or any dream) in the garage, out of the neighbors’ sight, hang in there. Don’t give up. Keep at it. You don’t have to let the world see it until you know it is airworthy.

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