Living in Idaho, we can relate to Jesus’ agricultural parables – the sower and the seeds, the workers in the vineyard, the wheat and the weeds. The farming and gardening process holds lessons we can apply to other kingdom ministries. For example, I recently helped conduct interviews with the ministry partners of Trinity Lutheran, Nampa. We asked how the pandemic had impacted those ministries. Please watch this short interview with Paulette Blaseg and Sheila Anderson of Trinity Community Garden, Inc.
The words of these gardeners made me ponder pandemic ministry.
1) “The garden is going according to plan.” Planning serves us well. In the winter, long before the soil is warm enough for planting, the farmer or gardener must decide what will be planted – and commit to that in advance by purchasing seeds or by starting plant babies in greenhouses. This is an act of trust – of investing time and resources in an end result long before it could possibly come to fruition. The pandemic has forced many ministries to change or even abandon plans. This has been so discouraging. Let us not allow that discouragement to make us give up on planning altogether.
2) “God makes it happen; you just have to take care of it.” Yes, there is a lot of human effort that goes into the process of taking seed to fruit. But, whether referring to gardening or any other kingdom work, we aren’t doing this alone. We are God’s fellow workers. The field is God’s; the work we do is done for God; the result brings glory to God.
3) “I’ll adjust the crops I grow for the next three years.” Sometimes circumstances demand flexibility. Whether it’s the shade of a mature tree or a scary new virus, obstacles can become opportunities if we are willing to adapt. We might keep our mission the same but execute it in a very different way. We are creatures of habit, and we have become weary of adapting during the past six month. But the fruit produced from our willingness to do things for God (but in a different way) can be just as sweet – perhaps even sweeter!
In 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, St Paul addresses jealousy and quarreling by reminding the church that it’s not all about you, or Paul or Apollos. It’s about God. We may assist in the process, but it is God that makes things grow.
Lord, we are honored that you enlist us as fellow workers in your kingdom. Give us the patience of the farmer and the gardener, to plan but be flexible, and to trust you for the results. Amen