I always have enjoyed the study of history. Looking at events from a historical perspective many times illustrates how situations of the day seemed impossible, with no one able to predict the outcome. Military decisions, social movements, etc. have divided nations and people all over the globe for centuries.
I find that focus is one of the most critical issues in life. It is important to remain focused on one's destiny, or the future. If we spend all our time looking back and reflecting on yesterday, we will miss the opportunity to be an influence today and tomorrow.
These are challenging days in almost every aspect - home, family, other relationships, church, work, etc. We are living in an era of rapid change with little time to focus.
We all have experienced change in our lives. I still can vividly remember boarding the Pan American plane in my homeland of Panama for the trip to Canada. It was an awesome, yet frightening experience. At the Miami airport I froze looking at the escalator until someone pushed me and said, "Get on and enjoy the ride." Landing in Toronto and seeing snow for the first time was exhilarating.
All of this was followed by my first Christmas away from home. When almost everyone went home, loneliness gripped my heart. Late one afternoon, I opened the phone book looking for a Southern Baptist church. I only found one listing which was for the "Southern Baptist Liaison Office." I dialed the number. "Hello, I am Fermin Whittaker, a Southern Baptist from Panama, attending Toronto Baptist Seminary, and I have no place to spend Christmas." The answer was immediate. "We will be there in 30 minutes."
Dr. Bertram W. King and his wife, Edith, came to the seminary and told me to "pack your things, and let's go home." For the next four years, they were the greatest influence on my life. Their love, prayers and kindness helped me to always visualize my God as a sender of faithful servants to touch the lives of strangers for Christ.
That has been my focus throughout my ministry - to touch the lives of strangers for Christ. I believe that is the Great Commission and Great Commandment lived out in our lives daily.
So, I encourage you to look back and celebrate the past, but don't park yourself there. Look forward with faith in our God who knows the plans He has for us. I continue to remain focused on touching the lives of strangers for Christ in California, one of the largest mission fields in the world.