Tom Elliff
Oklahoma City, OK

After pastoring for forty-two years, Tom Elliff served the International Mission Board, first as Senior Vice President for Spiritual Nurture and Church Relations from 2005-2009, then as President from 2011-2014. Tom served pastorates in Arkansas, Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma and as an IMB missionary in Zimbabwe. Tom also served as president of the SBC Pastor's Conference and two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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Two Sees & A Shout: How To Get Where You’re Supposed To Go

By on April 11, 2016

We had not been long in Zimbabwe before I began to realize the practical nature of the Zulu mind. Working among people who spent much of their time traveling on foot, I discovered that distance was not always measured in kilometers.

A friend’s house might simply be “two sees and a shout” away. That meant that you would travel as far down the road as you could see, and then repeat the exercise, at which time your friend’s house would be within shouting distance. Frankly that makes more sense to me than a lot of other directions I’ve received.  

At my age and experience, I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to just where God wants me to invest the balance of my life. That’s always a good exercise as long as you don’t get stuck in the process, always questioning but never coming to any productive, action-oriented conclusions.

The apostle, Paul, has some good directions for me (and others like me) in Philippians 3:13-14.

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on  toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul’s statement gives me some good parameters for thinking through the manner in which I will spend the rest of my life. I should be…

  1. Following (After all, “I’m not there yet!).
  2. Focused (Keeping my eyes riveted on the “one thing”).
  3. Forgetful (Possessing a wise forgetfulness of my past failures and successes).
  4. Forward Looking (Reaching hard after what is ahead).
  5. Fervent (Pressing toward the mark…the “upward call of God in Christ Jesus”).

Whatever God’s plan for my future might be, it is worthy of my best efforts! That’s what Paul is saying. If he was preaching from this text, he just might end his sermon with a quote from Longfellow’s poem, “The Ladder of St. Augustine.”

The heights by great men reached and kept, were not achieved by sudden flight.

But they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.

I must give myself to God and His plan without reservation. While Frost wrote that we have “miles to go before we sleep,” I may actually have only “two sees…and a shout!”

Rejoice evermore!
Tom Elliff
2 Tim 1:12

  • Chuck Lawless

    Always good stuff.