This week we're enjoying the bounty of our backyard garden. I'm amazed by how big our plants have grown and how much produce has come from those tiny seeds we started with. We've made pickles, zucchini bread, pesto, along with numerous salads and sides of grilled veggies.
One of the reasons I enjoy gardening so much, perhaps because God's still working on my patience, is that with gardening in a short period of time, my efforts pay off, produce fruit, and bring me and others joy.
In ministry, we find things look both similar and different compared with gardening. Similar in that God uses us to plant seeds of truth in people's lives, to provide nourishment and nurturing as people grow in their faith, and to water people's souls with encouragement and fellowship. These spiritual seeds are different from the plants in my garden in that it often takes much longer to see the fruit in people's lives, sometimes years, and sometimes we don't even get to see it at all. Sometimes God only uses us to plant, or to nourish, or to water and we don't get to see the complete process. And sometimes impatient people like me get frustrated when we're asked to wait until heaven to see and enjoy the fruits of the labor God gives us.
That's when I have to stop and praise the Creator for his unending patience with me, his patience to tend to my heart and trim back the sinfulness and selfishness inside me. He's the perfect gardener, things ripen in his perfect timing and he prunes out of love with grace.