“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
This is a great quote I have been ruminating on and I hope will plant a seed in everyone who comes across it (pun intended).
If you have not heard, Pastor John has returned to us unscathed but surely changed. As a congregation, we reflect back on just a couple months ago, have had numerous new members, new baptisms, new attendees, and new leaders who have emerged as part of our church community. It is a bit of a shock not seeing one of our pastors for so long, and likewise for him not having seen us for quite a bit as well. In this sense, time is prejudiced towards no one as seasons will always change things, whether we intend or not.
Mark 4:26-32 speaks about the Kingdom of Heaven often being like seeds that
1. Grow up without us causing growth
2. Begin small and grows large
3. Benefit not only ourselves but others
As we encounter change, we all have a litany of manners in which we respond, sometimes with excitement, most often with some anxiety and caution, and most of the time with confusion and seeking of clarity.
Jesus promises not clarity or even understanding in these moments, but rather that we would see Him being faithful to us. This faithfulness can at times also be confusing because we know not what manner He will provide or help us, but He does say He will be faithful to us and never forsake us.
In part this is what is happening at our church as we seek to lead well. As we also make mistakes, we will always acknowledge that aspect of our walking with God. We are at best, very blind men being lead by Jesus, trusting only in His Word and His presence to guide us and to enlighten us. Our Saturday service happening this Saturday is such an endeavor in which we prayed long and hard with others. We found the idea being already in the minds and hearts of others as we spoke with them about a place where new seed could be sown and God’s presence could dwell and His work could be done in us. Our night of worship really is a different experience, not just that night, but in the formation of that spiritual space along with the people God will bring to shape that place. That means that like the seed in Mark 4, we will not fully know what it looks like because God continues to bring people who are interested in contributing to that evening. Like the seed, it began small with 40 people and children but with the promise of spiritual growth. At times, perhaps imperceptible, but God is working. Many who came last month to our night of worship found it restful and empowering. It was a time that stirred people up for many who work so hard on Sunday mornings, to have a space to rest and be poured into. In this, we found benefit for others beyond ourselves, even some not familiar to us.
This is just one of many things that have changed. Rather, that God’s spirit is leading us to better serve and be of benefit to our community. We must make space and prepare for those who WILL eventually become part of our community. Isn’t that a beautiful thought? That we would not only serve those we know, but also be of benefit to those we do not know yet. We must continually be looking towards not only what God has done, but also what God is going to be doing. God is not yet done with us, and until the day that He is, we can expect Him to be working on us, challenging us, seeking to move us more and more towards green pastures as His children and His sheep.
We don’t need to be old men or women to plant trees whose shade we will never sit in, but surely we can plant a seed, knowing that what we leave behind us, is just a small part of the greater faithfulness of God in our own lives and in the lives of others. Even if we never see the land or the place that we expected, we can expect that God has planned a better place for us, not just a place where His glory dwells, but rather that His glory dwells with us constantly.