John 12:24 – I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (NIV)
Last April, the Daily was attracting about 60-80 readers a day to our website, after two years on the Internet. A year ago today, Monday, April 20, 1998, I wrote computer instructions that would automatically send out the devotionals by e-mail each day. I sent out e-mailed notices, and within two days, well over two hundred people had signed up for this free service. Obviously, we had developed a good reputation. As my programming skills improved and my computer equipment was upgraded, I gradually added more design features. At the end of the year, our circulation reached 480 a day, and now stands at 883, in addition to 110 who read the web-site version. We have readers from all denominations, all over the world. And all this came about as a result of the death of a vision.
When I was in university nearly thirty-five years ago, I was facing a 120-hour job of statistical calculations for a Geography assignment. Computers were just coming into prominence, and I decided that I would ask a friend to show me how to program those massive calculations on the computer. Later on in university, although I loved working with computers immensely, I rejected a career in programming and re-affirmed my decision to enter the ministry. For me, working with people is more important. Little did I know that what I thought I had given up to serve the Lord would later become a major means of serving the Lord through these devotionals. Writing the programs that automate the Daily has meant that it will update each morning even if I don't pay attention to it.
According to today's scripture, there seems to be an important principle in life that something has to die before something else can be born. Jesus had to die before He was raised to new life. In order to serve the Lord in full-time ministry, I sacrificed my desire to do computer programming, the death of a vision. The Lord gave that back to me in an unexpected computerized ministry, the re-birth of a vision.
When the door closes, the Lord says "No!" or a dream of yours goes up in smoke, remember the principle of "the death of a vision — the re-birth of a vision". In the Lord's economy, what dies gives birth to new life somewhere else. We believe in the overcoming power of the resurrection — life conquers death. God gives back to us, in improved form, what we sacrifice to Him in obedience.
As a personal note of thanks to our readers, it is really rewarding when someone writes to say how much the day's devotional has meant to them, or how they felt the Lord's timing in having a devotional deal with the very situation they were facing that day. Sometimes someone will enthusiastically record a miraculous answer to a request they had previously posted on PrayerLine. The e-mailed responses to the devotional writers and to the prayer requests indicate the development of a caring, sharing community amongst the readers. I also value the support and encouragement of my congregation, for this is partly their ministry. Thanks to the Lord and to all the writers and readers who have made Daily such a success, growing from such humble beginnings, even the death of a vision.
Prayer: We thank you, our all-knowing God, that in Your wisdom, You see the great scheme of things. We see only in part; we know only in part. Help us to act in faithfulness to You, trusting that what we give up to You, will, in Your providence, have effects that we may realize only later, or perhaps only when we get to heaven. This we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.