This statement stood over the pulpit of one of the historic revivalist churches in America.
Sometimes our greatest passions are right under our nose (or in town) and we don't even know it. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to work for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association last year. Little did I know, their offices were still in town during my freshman and sophomore years of Bible college (where I was studying to be an evangelist!). One of the greatest evangelistic organizations to tread upon the earth, right under my nose (literally blocks away), and I didn't even realize it until they were gone - moved to North Carolina nearer the homes of Billy and Franklin Graham. Thank goodness God redeemed the time!
I had a similar encounter earlier this week. My boss, our radio network's Executive Director David McIver and I drove down to Bloomington, MN to visit the campus of Bethany Church, Bethany School of Missions and Bethany Publishing House. I knew that my favorite author, the late Leonard Ravenhill used to be published through Bethany Publishers, but I was in for a bigger surprise - learning more about some of the people and ideas that have shaped Michelle and my ministry and lives.
In meeting with Matt, the current Lead Pastor (and great guy!) we learned that Leonard Ravenhill used to attend the church we were standing in for 6 years, before moving (and eventually) basing his ministry in Texas, where his son David Ravenhill still lives. For a period of time, Ravenhill received spiritual instruction at the very church where we were standing. He most likely preached there as well.
I sometimes feel envious of the people who were mentored by Leonard Ravenhill - people like Keith Green, Steve Hill, Rick Warren and others. But having read every one of his books and some of them twice, I probably have been mentored by him in a roundabout way more than some who sat with him in person.
Here's the kicker - the whole reason we chose our ministry name "Think Eternity" in late 2005 was based off some of Ravenhill's writings. Ravenhill wrote that he had a plaque near his desk with the word "Eternity" on it. It reminded him of what really mattered and guided his life. Pastor Hedrick told us how (possibly the original influence of this concept on Ravenhill himself) a board stood above the pulpit and preacher at Bethany Church stating "Live with Eternity's Values in View."
This concept is transformational. When we think and live with eternity's values in view we make our life count for what God is concerned about. Seeing, not the temporary, but with eyes for the eternal as Scripture puts it enables us to endure suffering, fulfill our calling and leave an eternal legacy.