1 Corinthians 3:6-9
I was pulling weeds in our garden and preparing space to put in some new raspberry plants, when this Bible passage came to mind. It reminded me of all our effort and time pulling weeds, watering, planting, and tending to make usable soil. It certainly feels worth it when the raspberries are ripe and delicious, but on this cold, windy morning, those berries felt a long way off.
Sometimes I feel this way in ministry, too. I find seasons of being exhausted from all the planting and watering and weeding, wondering when God might make something grow. In our society that focuses on success and results, it seems even easier to fall into this trap. We place time limits, deadlines, and qualitative and quantitative measurements on projects and ministries – expecting a certain amount of “growth” by the time those limits expire. If we are honest, being in charge of growing and expecting certain outcomes is a reflection of our own expectations, hopes, judgments, and assumptions about others.
If there’s anything I’ve learned at working at The House Next Door, it’s that transformation takes many forms and timelines. After a morning of weeding and resenting the cold, I returned inside to do some social media work for the non-profit ministry. I noticed a new message – one from a former resident of The House Next Door many years ago. She sent some lovely pictures and a quick update about how well she is doing, how happy she and her family are, and how the ministry of The House Next Door was the turning point for her.
The timing of this message was impeccable considering the 1 Corinthians passage I was just pondering. God was kind to send me a reminder that transformation is constantly taking place, even if it isn’t right under my nose. As a co-worker in God’s kingdom, my job is, in fact, the planting, watering, and weeding; God takes on the growing from there. Growth is God’s business – whatever form that may look like. In the end, God knows what we all will grow into and who we will become as we grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus Christ.
God of all growth, give us the strength to be your planters and waterers. Give us good courage when the weeding is overwhelming, and no fruit is in sight. Shower us with your love and remind us that you are always at work, showering all people with that same love – the love that makes all things grow. Amen.