The Hand of Providence
A deluge of wind and rain tore at my little Hyundai station wagon as it turned into 665 Upper Rollands Plains Rd, one dark winter night in May. Rounding the final bend of the driveway brought the warm lights from the Bailey's cottage into view. Finally! After months of discussion, thought and prayer, here I was at Eastward!
Let's pause here, to turn the hands of time back. Reflection on the way God has led in the past, fills my heart with thankfulness for His many providential leadings. Time and time again I've seen God's hand leading in ways I never could have planned! Though not always obvious at first, the twists and turns of providence have always worked out some greater good.
Some of my earliest memories began on our 40 acre property, in the Goulburn Rivers National Park, NSW. My family moved here when I was just four. The next ten years were the most carefree of my life! The youngest child in a family of five, I always found a playmate in one of my older brothers or sisters. Whether it was climbing trees, exploring wombat tunnels, swimming in the river, or riding horses there was always some form of wholesome recreation to be had. After, of course, our music practice, school lessons and household chores were done!
It was here in this remote bush block, where I first learnt to hear God's voice. My siblings and I would often spend time hiking in the mountains surrounding us. Sometimes we'd rise early to catch the morning sunrise from the crest of a nearby mountain. Whilst I believe no upbringing is completely idyllic, I am deeply grateful for these peaceful years of my life, protected in many ways from the influences of towns and cities.
In December 2006 we sold this property, and travelled in a caravan for about 18 months, mainly on the east-coast of Australia, and mid NSW and QLD. I love travelling!
The end of 2008 saw us working at Highwood College & Health Retreat, in Victoria. Here my love for ministry work began. I studied at the college in 2009, along with my brother Raymond, and had the opportunity to give a Bible study, take part in evangelism, work with health guests and do public speaking for the very first time. This year was a turning point in the direction of my life.
Then, at the start of 2010, I came to a crossroad. What to do next? Some of the options were to start an apprenticeship in a trade or go to America and study at Hartland College. I sincerely wanted to do God's will, but didn't feel at peace with either of these options. So I stayed with my family and moved closer to Melbourne where we started renting, and where I completed a Cert IV in Massage and Cert IV in Training And Assessment at Swinburne TAFE college.
Only a few weeks after moving down to Melbourne, however, I received a call from Steps to Life (Aust), asking if I would be interested in spending a day with them doing some filming in their video studio. To make a long story short, the Lord led me to work with Steps to Life for the next three years, first as camera operator and eventually as media producer / director. The experience gained here has been extremely valuable, and for which I am again, very grateful.
Oh, I must mention another ministry the Lord led me to, around the middle of 2009: Do and Dare Youth Ministries. The circumstances that brought me in contact with Do and Dare were providential, including someone having a heart attack (but that's another story)! I attended the first camp in Jan 2010 as part of the youth leader or counsellor team, and have been going every year since. Do and Dare camps have been life-changing for me. I now have such a burden and passion to see youth commit their lives to the Lord, and to find that real joy and peace found only in service for Christ.
The Lord also opened the way for me to work in Tasmania with Wendy Fox, the director of Do & Dare, which also was a great experience. 2011-2012 found me working part-time between Steps to Life in Melbourne and Do and Dare in Tasmania. I look forward to continued involvement with Do and Dare in the future.
Why am I writing all this? Simply to testify to the loving care, and faithfulness of God! There's no way I could have planned these things myself. Only a loving caring God would take such interest in our life, and lead us in such a way. The promise we have, from the God who cannot lie, is:
3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
That's it! Our part is simply to trust, implicitly. We must lay our plans before the Lord, pray for divine guidance, Study the word and draw close to God. We also must search our own hearts and try our motives when making decisions.
For example: Deep down in my heart, what is my real motive for studying at university? Is it so I can be a more effective worker for the Lord? Or is it because society expects it of me? Or perhaps because people will think better of me if I have a degree? I'm not saying that studying at a university is inherently wrong, God may call you there. But we must examine our real motives and make a wise decision in light of eternal realities. Do we recognise God's claim on our life and have we yielded our life to His control? Or are we pursuing our own selfish dreams?
If we surrender ourselves to God, If we trust and acknowledge Him in all we do, sincerely seeking to know and do His will, His promise is that He will direct our paths. That is a guarantee!
Think! "How are my decisions going to impact my eternal salvation, and the eternal salvation of others?". If you really thought about it, everything else must be secondary to these two things. In light of eternity, what does it matter if I spend the rest of my days friendless, penniless and homeless if it means I can lead more souls to secure eternal life thereby?
No, we must not be negligent or irresponsible in our education, in gaining skills or in our business dealings, but shouldn't these things be only a means to the end of saving souls? Shouldn't our choice of education, choice of career, choice of wife or husband, indeed every aspect of our life centre around the great gospel commission? After all, if we are awake to eternal realities, this is all that really matters.
Yes, we all say "I believe that", but how few actually live their life in harmony with this knowledge? Why are there so few consecrated missionaries? Where are those who sense God's sacred claim on their life, and order their life accordingly, who are willing to make any sacrifice to further the kingdom of God? Where are those who are willing to lose friends, fortune, fame, even their own reputation, so souls can be saved eternally? Where is the spirit of self-denial and self-sacrifice that graced the life of Jesus, our great example?
"Workers are needed now. As a people, we are not doing one fiftieth of what we might do as active missionaries. If we were only vitalized by the Holy Spirit, there would be a hundred missionaries where there is now one. But where are the missionaries? Has not the truth for this time power to stir the souls of those who claim to believe it?" - Counsels on Health, p 507
Earlier this year, I reached another set of crossroads. Where to go from here? After three years of valuable experience at Steps to Life in Melbourne, I felt it was time to aim for broader horizons. I often prayed just saying "Lord, what do you want me to do? Where are the needs greatest in your vineyard? Where can I accomplish the greatest amount of good in my short life?".
God answered this prayer by leading me here to Eastward. I'm convinced that the model Eastward is working towards, is the best thing that could happen here in Australia. God knew what He was doing when He directed Sr. White to write:
"Every possible means should be devised to establish schools of the Madison order in various parts of the South; and those who lend their means and their influence to help this work, are aiding the cause of God." - Manuscript Releases vol. 20, p. 101
The combination (as seen in the historic Madison Institute,) of college, sanitarium (health centre) and city-mission (centre of influence) is one of 'the most successful means' of reaching people (Counsels on Health, 212).
So dear reader, I hope that by recounting the way the Lord has led in my short life so far, you will be encouraged. Be determined that you will settle for nothing less than the best. Aim to make the greatest impact, do the greatest amount of good, eternal good, that you can in your short life! You will never regret it. May God lead you to consecrate yourself more fully to the rewarding life of a consecrated missionary. After all, "Every true disciple is born into the kingdom of God as a missionary" (Desire of Ages, 195).
I look forward to hearing your testimony one day! God has a great work for all to do, we need only connect ourselves to the source of infinite wisdom and power.
- Emmanuel Higgins