In so many places today, there are people who use the same names, who serve in the same locations others have served, but they only inhabit the land and the buildings that were conquered and built by those with a “pioneering spirit” in God. Today’s inhabitants can tell stories of how things were built and victories were won, but they repeat these stories as someone repeating a historical account.
In some places there are large facilities and large numbers of people to lead, but the pioneers who once used those facilities knew firsthand that God provided them. The pioneers who led those large numbers of people before led a people who knew that their leader had personally trusted God for wisdom and direction because there was no other way to get wisdom and direction.
College students sit in buildings and use facilities that were provided by the faith and sacrifices of others. They will never have an appreciation for those facilities like the people that had to trust God to provide them. For those who had the pioneering spirit and trusted God for the facilities, the facilities were never the goal, only a means to the goal. Their goal was God. They followed God and needed physical facilities to conduct the ministries that God had given them. But the generation following faces the temptation of making the care and maintenance of the buildings the goal, because somehow they cannot understand the faith that was exercised in trusting God for the provision. Growing, pioneering ministries so often degenerate into ministries of maintaining.
Young students sit in the classrooms of Christian schools at desks they had no part in purchasing, in buildings they had no part in building, using facilities they had no part in providing. How can we expect them to have appreciation for what was not firsthand to them?
The pioneer never feels toward the physical facilities the way those who come after the pioneers feel toward the physical facilities. It is the spirit of adventure, following God, the faith life that is most meaningful to the pioneer. We must lift up our eyes and look on the fields. They are white unto harvest. Unless we recapture this pioneering spirit and move from the death of a maintenance ministry, someone will say of us, “There arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done” (Judges 2:10).
It is so easy to make a goal out of a by-product, to find something that has been produced as a result of faith in God and make the by-product the goal, and not faith in God the goal.