Authored by Tina Kapp
When I was in elementary school, we had the most amazing gardener whom we all called “Uncle Silas.” He could make one of those “picture book gardens” with tomatoes, beans, cabbage, and lettuce bursting out everywhere. Our flower beds in front of the school were always an amazing range of color, and he knew exactly which plants and flowers worked best for the different times of the year. He had years of experience, and he knew all the complex tricks of the trade.
Not every gardening story is like that, though.
I read an article from a mother named Koriane, who with her kids, decided to start a vegetable garden. Mental images of a cornucopia of luscious fruit and tasty vegetables inspired them through the digging, planting, watering, and nurturing process. However, this garden seemed to do anything but produce.
Koriane got discouraged and felt like giving up many times. Then the sun would come out and she’d feel motivated to try again, hoping this time something better would come of it. She didn’t understand why the seeds she planted took so much effort and tender care to do their thing, while the weeds were bountiful and grew, well, like weeds.
The next spring, after preparing the ground and planting ten types of vegetables in neat little rows, Koriane wondered why they even bothered. Even though the plants had grown quickly (some even got taller than the kids), the actual fruit or vegetables the plants bore hardly grew. No matter how hard their efforts or how long they waited, nearly all they got in return were the plants’ inedible leaves. By and by, they ended up with a few strawberries and beets, and carrots the size of acorns, so they went ahead and had fun cooking the tiny vegetables into a small side dish for dinner. But it wasn’t really what they had hoped for!
So Koriane decided to read more about gardening, and she discovered that there are many factors involved in growing a perfect vegetable or fruit tree. For instance, you need enough of the right bees around to pollinate the flowers. If the wrong kind of pest control was used in the area and there are few or no bees, the flowers won’t be properly pollinated and the amount of fruit or vegetables could be affected. Also, it’s important to know the traits of the plant or tree. Some trees simply alternate years, bearing a lot of fruit one year and nothing the following year.
Rather than discouraging them further, this news actually helped Koriane and her kids not feel too bad about their struggling garden. They were better informed about the challenges they faced, and it made them want to learn more, to try new things, and most of all, enjoy the process without stressing too much about the results.
Koriane said that it shed light as to how life works. You try to do the right thing and be a good example of a Christian. You share your faith with others, help those in need, take time to study God’s Word and pray. Sometimes you see and feel the returns from keeping these principles, while other times you don’t. Maybe one year, you get to participate in a school program where you can make new friends or you get to participate in a charity project, and it’s easy to see how your participation made a difference in someone’s life, while another year you’re still doing what you can, when you can, but see little in the way of results. The cool thing about this is that the Lord doesn’t judge you by your results but by your faithfulness.
I found this reflection very encouraging. I think we all go through dry spells in our lives, and knowing that the Lord looks at our hearts and doesn’t judge us by our successes but by our faithfulness lifts a lot of the pressure. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take the time to ask God about how we can do the job better, or see if there’s anything we can learn or do to improve, but it’s something we can do while we’re trusting Him for the outcome.
Paul spoke to the Corinthians about how within one job, each person has their part to do for the Lord and that all the credit shouldn’t be given to just one person. At the end of the day, the Lord is the one who touches people’s lives and changes them for the better; we simply help lead them to Him. Maybe our part was to say a kind word, give them a smile, pass on a scripture or quote to read, or to pray with them. And aside from our part, we’ll never really know how many others contributed to that person’s encouragement or change as well.
Paul said, “The Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service.”1
“Co-workers in God’s service.” I like that. It helps me look at fellow Christians differently, rather than nit-picking over doctrinal differences or denominations, I look at them as co-workers who may one day help play a role in the same mission I’m called to be a part of. Who knows?
I’ve also decided not to get discouraged if I don’t see the results of my labors, either immediately or over the long term. I’ll leave that up to the Lord and His timing.
Remember, the commendation we want from the Lord at the end of the day is, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”2
In the meantime, let’s enjoy the little blessings and successes that come our way, knowing we’re all part of God’s great master plan.
1 1 Corinthians 3:5–9 NIV
2 Matthew 25:21 NIV
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2015 by The Family International