Disappointment His Appointment
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."1
The story of this one man had a profound impact on my life.
The year was 1920. The scene was the examining board for selecting missionaries. Standing before the board was a young man named Oswald Smith. One dream dominated his heart. He wanted to be a missionary. Over and over again, he prayed, "Lord, I want to go as a missionary for you. Open a door of service for me." Now, at last, his prayer would be answered.
When the examination was over, the board turned Oswald Smith down. He did not meet their qualifications. He failed the test. Oswald Smith had set his direction, but now life gave him a detour. What would he do? As Oswald Smith prayed, God planted another idea in his heart. If he could not go as a missionary, he would build a church which could send out missionaries. That is what he did. Oswald Smith pastored The People's Church in Toronto, Canada, which sent out more missionaries than any other church at that time. Oswald Smith brought God into the situation, and God transformed his detour into a main thoroughfare of service.2
This story is of particular interest to me because in 1968 when I was the South Australian Director of Youth for Christ, I helped organize a special week of meetings for Oswald Smith. On a Wednesday night, Smith preached on the importance of the printed page. God used this man to deeply challenge me about the power of the printed wordówithin weeks of that meeting I started a literature ministry which saw more than 40 million of ACTS' gospel brochures distributed in many countries by several hundred churches and many hospital, military and prison chaplains, and now through Daily Encounter, Weekend Encounter, and the ACTS World Wide Web ministry, we are reaching thousands of people around the world every day of the year with the saving gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So I can verify how Oswald Smith's disappointment was indeed God's appointment, which in turn was used of God to challenge me to launch the outreach ministry of ACTS International.
God can use your disappointments, too, if you will surrender them to him with a simple prayer such as the following:
"Dear God, every sorrow, every trial, and every disappointment I surrender to You with my humble prayer, 'Not my will but Yours be done.' Please take my sorrows and turn them into blessings and use them and my life to glorify You in whichever way You choose. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Romans 8:28 (NIV).
2. Brian L. Harbour, Rising Above the Crowd.