May 22, 2012:
"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase." I Corinthians 3:6
|The front yard of our home when this was originally written 5/22/2012 - see pictures below for update|
Recently I have been laboring in another kind of field...planting new trees and shrubs and flowers in the yard of our new home in the forest. I have been watering our trees and flowers faithfully every evening since we are not getting any consistent rain. I have begun to get a bit discouraged, because the trees have not been showing any signs of new growth. Not that they appear to be dying...they just haven't sprouted any new leaves or grown any taller or fuller that I can see.
I thought about this as I spoke with my friend today...and it occurred to me that we oftentimes cannot see the growth that is taking place because it is developing so slowly. I said to him that in churches (or people we are caring for), like trees, the early growth is actually growing under the surface as roots are reaching deeper down into the soil in search of the pure water and rich nutrients of the earth. The foundation is being established by daily watering with the right combination of fertilizer and sunlight and hopefully some rain. Before the new leaves and branches can spring forth and reach up into the sky the tree has to be rooted and grounded in solid ground...or else when the storms come the tree (or person) will not be strong enough to withstand the high winds and pounding rain.
It takes patience to be a gardener and a tiller of the soil. It also takes patience to be a gardener in the garden of God's church. Oftentimes the pastor-gardener becomes discouraged because he has labored long and hard, breaking up the fallow ground, planting seeds and praying for a great harvest, with no visible results.
The Apostle Paul dealt with this same issue when he wrote to the Corinthian early church . He was frustrated with the people of this young church because after much teaching, preaching, and prayer, they were still not showing any signs of spiritual growth. And then they would compare one preacher with the other thinking one was better than the other because some showed more signs of growth under one leader than the other.
Paul admonished them regarding this way of thinking in I Corinthians 3:6-11~
"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
So, whether you are laboring in a field of trees, flowers or vegetables...or perhaps you are laboring in the field of teaching and ministering to the children of God (or even your own children)...don't lose hope when you can't see immediate results. Be faithful to your task...cover every deed with prayer and love. When the "field" is ripe and ready for harvest or even if you find that you have to walk away and allow someone else to reap the harvest...remember that it is God Who has given the increase...in His time...in His way. Just be faithful to do what you have been called to do and leave the results to Him.