TALLADEGA, Ala. (BP)–In her first address to the WMU executive board since being elected president in June 2000, Janet Hoffman cautioned her co-laborers not to become so busy fulfilling God’s plans that they fail to get instructions from him.
“There is no shortcut to God’s vision,” Hoffman said. “It requires prayer. You and I know that. Many of us have known it all of our lives. We were created for fellowship with God.
“But,” she continued, “in the busy place of our myriad ministries, in our sincere desire to do as much as we can as quickly as we can, often the first thing to go is our prayer time.
“Yet prayer releases the power of God!” said Hoffman, of Farmerville, La. “If we have a fresh look from God’s perspective, we must make prayer our priority. Only as we spend time with God — knowing him better, loving him more deeply — can we experience all he wants to give us.”
Hoffman gave her challenge during the closing session of the Jan. 13-16 WMU executive board meeting at Shocco Springs Conference Center in Talladega, Ala.
The annual gathering of the WMU executive board, made up of state WMU presidents from the 41 state, regional and geographical Southern Baptist conventions, draws some 250 people. Others include national and state WMU leaders, North American and international missionaries, personnel from Southern Baptists’ two mission boards and other guests.
Along with WMU business, the sessions include presentations by national WMU staff and the mission boards and testimonies from international and North American missionaries.
Hoffman told her listeners that WMU, both nationally and locally, is at a significant point in its history.
“The occasion of the new millennium calls for us to take a new look at our world,” she said. “It calls for us to look from a different vantage point. It calls for us to seek the ‘view from the top’ — God’s viewpoint — to get past looking at faces and differences and look at hearts.”
Hoffman reminded the audience of 2 Kings 6:15-17, which relates the story of Elisha’s prayer for God to open the eyes of his servant so that he could see God’s army that encircled them.
“The servant needed a new vision because he was looking through the human perspective and what he saw was frightening — life-threatening even,” Hoffman recounted. “He definitely recognized that there was a need.
“We are no different,” Hoffman said. “We need a new vision when we are surrounded by difficulties or new situations; when we see problems without visible solutions; when we have questions without answers.”
Hoffman recalled several issues and situations that touch national and state WMU organizations. Among them were reorganization and other traumatic adjustments, new strategies, new titles and job descriptions, and funding changes.
Like Elisha’s servant, she said, “It is natural for us to wonder, ‘Alas! What shall we do?’ That’s the first step to receiving a God-given viewpoint — recognizing the need.”
The second step, she continued, is prayer. Elisha prayed for his servant and God answered beyond the servant’s ability to dream or imagine when he revealed the army of God hovering in protective stance.
“When we see the need and pray for God to open our eyes, he gives us the vision. And with the vision comes hope!” Hoffman said.
Among her teachers about this concept, Hoffman said, is her 3-year-old granddaughter, Madison. When she cannot see what others see because of her size or when she is afraid, she tugs on her daddy’s pants leg and says, “I want to hold you, Daddy. I want to see.” In her father’s arms, she gains vision and understanding of what is going on around her.
“When we desire the security of the Father’s protection, when we desire to have his point of view, he draws us to himself and opens our eyes to see as he sees. May God grant that … when we have seen, we will pray for others … the prayer of Elisha: ‘O Lord, open [her] eyes to see, those who are with us are more than enough. For our God is able!'”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo title: JANET HOFFMAN.
*Name changed for security concerns.