Am I making an impact?
Does what I'm saying or doing matter?
Are lives being changed? Does my being here make any difference?
I confess that I ask myself these questions all the time. It's so easy to think your efforts are worthless when you see blank expressions. It's so tempting to think you're ineffectual when it looks like people aren't worshiping as you think they should. It's seems obvious sometimes to think that you're not getting through when you see people continue down the same destructive paths that you just finished preaching or teaching about.
Am I making an impact?
And then sometimes, though you might want mass transformation, God allows you to see one. One person transformed. One person publicly showing their love for Christ. One person hearing what you said and vowing, in tears, to change.
Someone once famously said that they didn't know what art was, but they knew it when they saw it. What is it in our minds or hearts that keeps us from knowing the fruit of our ministry even when we do indeed see it??
Yesterday, for no known reason, I was reminded of the story of Edward Kimball. Kimball was just a man, hardly to be mentioned among names like D.L. Moody or Billy Graham. Yet, that is exactly where the complete canvass of history puts him.
Kimball served humbly as a Sunday School teacher at the Congregational Church of Mt. Vernon in Boston, MA. Among the students in his class was a rambunctious teenager whose initial application for church membership was turned down, even after he accepted Christ. Referring to this student, Kimball wrote,
"I can truly say, and in saying it I magnify the infinite grace of God as bestowed upon him, that I have seen few persons whose minds were spiritually darker than was his when he came into my Sunday School class; and I think that the committee of the Mount Vernon Church seldom met an applicant for membership more unlikely ever to become a Christian of clear and decided views of Gospel truth, still less to fill any extended sphere of public usefulness."
This rambunctious teenager was D. L. Moody, whose amazing work as an evangelist led him to England, among other places. While in England, Moody preached at a small chapel pastored by Dr. F. B. Meyer, a brilliant man who did not focus on Jesus. After hearing Moody preach, Meyer was convicted by the Holy Spirit and changed his entire approach the gospel, affecting all those who heard him. One of those who heard the "new" Meyer was a man named J. Wilbur Chapman.
In time, J. Wilbur Chapman influenced the famous evangelist Billy Sunday; then Billy Sunday influenced a man named Mordecai Ham.
And one day, at a tent revival near Charlotte, NC, Mordecai Ham preached the gospel to another rambunctious teenager- this one named Billy Graham. That day Billy Graham gave his life to God and began a relationship with the Lord that has sent him around the world, leading millions to Jesus Christ.
One website I looked at called this "spiritual dominoes."
I like that. If you were to focus a camera on the first domino in a long procession such as the one below, it would seem so insignificant. However, when viewed in full, we are awed by the artistry of a well done domino display.
I wonder if that's what it will be like in heaven. Will we be allowed a glimpse of what our impact truly was?