By Randy C. Davis
President and executive director, Tennessee Baptist Mission Board
Sometimes you must look back to gain a vision for the future.
That’s biblical. The word, “remember” is ubiquitous throughout the Old Testament. There are scores of instances where God reminds His people to “remember the Lord your God.” Many of those instances call the people to recount God’s faithfulness to encourage them to move forward in faith, often in the face of daunting challenges.
Paraphrased, an old theologian put it like this: If God has extended His graciousness to His people in the past then it should inspire confidence and hope that He will continue to be gracious to us in the future.
As I stand at the doorstep of my 13th year as president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, I’ve taken a little time to reflect on the past and it inspires me toward the future.
Jeanne and I often talk about the incredible adventure God has us on as we’ve served four great churches through the decades — New Hope Baptist Church in Leakesville, Miss., and First Baptist Church in Vancleave, Miss.
After a beloved 16-years of pastoral ministry in Mississippi, God called me to become the pastor of First Baptist Church of Morristown. In fact, it was 30 years ago this month that Jeanne, our daughters Wendy and Beth, and I became Tennesseans.
We loved the people and ministry of First Baptist, Morristown, and were there for nearly a decade before the Lord called us to move again, to First Baptist Church, Sevierville, where we again loved the people and ministry for nearly a decade.
Throughout the journey we’ve made lifelong friendships and have truly been blessed by the people we’ve encountered. I believe I would have joyfully lived out my days serving as pastor of a local church. I can think of no higher calling.
But in 2010, Jeanne and I began an unexpected, God-directed journey working with a 3,000-church network known as the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Over the past 12-plus years as executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board we have had the joy of washing the feet of the bride of Christ by serving local churches across our beautiful and interesting state. We have broken bread, laughed, wept, prayed and done Kingdom work with so many champions for Christ.
To TBMB directors who have served during my tenure, thank you for the privilege of allowing me to serve in this capacity. And a hearty “thank you” to the excellent and highly gifted TBMB staff I am honored to serve with every day.
Remembering God’s faithfulness throughout the past is encouraging, but I say all this to say one thing: I have far more excitement, and Holy Spirit-induced enthusiasm, about the future than I do the mountain of past memorable victories. I believe the best is yet to be!
Acts 2:17 gives us reason for optimism: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.”
I read this verse in Acts and it reminds me of a powerful verse by Robert Browning: “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!’ ”
Yes, the culture is rapidly changing, positioning itself against Christ and the clear standards of the Word of God. There is indeed tremendous political division that is bleeding over into our churches and our denomination, but we have a God and a mission that rises above all this temporal turmoil. He is still Lord and King, our Lord and King, and we still have work to do.
Tennessee Baptists, as our convention approaches its 150th anniversary in 2024, may we press forward with confidence that in God’s grand plan, the best is yet to be!
It is a joy to be with you on this journey. B&R