In one of the devotions I read this past week the focus verse was 1 Corinthians 3:6, “Paul wrote, “I planted, Appolos watered, but God gave the growth.”
When we hear this, do we think about the different roles in the body of Christ and that sometimes we only walk with people for a season? Or do we see it as a cop out to sometimes not give it our all, because it’s really up to God? Do we lift up verses like these when things are going really successfully with our ministries or the things we’re involved with? Or do we see it as being random that sometimes things grow and sometimes they don’t?
So is the emphasis on the growth or on the fact that it’s not all about us?
Probably a little of both.
God can bring growth sometimes even in spite of us. The Spirit can move in mighty ways and can multiply things ten fold. The Spirit can also move in mighty ways in the smallest of the smallest of small groups, class meetings, or covenant groups. To me, this growth isn’t just talking about numbers, but fruit. And fruitfulness isn’t just determined in the nuts and bolts of the bottom liine, but also in the tangible ways we’re in mission in communities, we show love to the least of these, we practice radical hospitality.
I also appreciate that it’s not all on us. That makes me feel better in the transition seasons or the times when we’re running a little on empty. Then again, I don’t want my trust and faith in God and God’s power to make me complacent or for me to think well, God’s going to do great things here, I just sit back with my arms behind my head and lounge. That’s the thing. It’s not all random. There are times of planting and watering. We may not always see the planting and watering and we may not always feel like we’re doing all that much planting and watering, but God is bringing the growth. And sometimes this growth isn’t in the people around us that we’re serving, but often and hopefully that growth is also in us.
May we trust and know that God is working in us and through us and around us. May we continue to press forward and keep moving in the passion and ministry that God has given us. May we know that we’re not in this alone but there are people surrounding us and working alongside us. And may we know that God’s got this – not that we’re going to be a bunch of slackers or that we’re going to think that we’re God’s gift to the world – but it all flows back to the Source – God.
As we continue through our Lenten journey, looking towards Holy Week – these verses are a challenge, a promise and a prayer. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. . . . Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” – Psalm 51:10, 12
The sentences above was my facebook status this morning. The passage came from the online Upper Room readings this morning. I don’t know about you, but I needed to hear them. It is so easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of life and all of the things that “have” to get done, that at least for me, the things that I treasure sometimes get pushed aside. There’s only so long that we can spin like tops like in Inception without completely stopping and getting skewed.
I think some of us see God as the One that keeps the top spinning. We see God as the strength to get us through the next thing and the next and the next. This time of year when there’s just a month left in the semester, in many ways I cling to that image of God giving us the strength, perseverance, and grace to keep moving and going and completing the things that we need to complete and remembering the things we need to remember.
For some of us, it’s harder to see God as the One that sometimes is this one to stop the top mid-spin. If you’re in the middle of dancing to a good song or jamming in your car, you don’t want the song to suddenly go off either by someone changing the channel or an emergency test or you arriving at your location. Sometimes though it takes this sometimes awkward pause to wake us up to realize that we’ve been running on our own steam and in our own self-centeredness and self-involvement and that we haven’t connected to the One who sustains us in awhile.
It’s not that we haven’t been doing what we need to do. It’s not that I haven’t gone to worship or small group or done the “minister” stuff, but no matter how long the to do list is and no matter how many directions our minds are pulled in whether in worry or day dreaming or whatever, sometimes we need to press the pause button and reconnect with the One who is providing us with the music.
My prayer for myself and each of us is that if we’re speeding through this Lenten journey and we’re thinking we’re in the home stretch, that we’re just as attentive now to God’s leading as we were when we started this journey on Ash Wednesday. My hope is that we’re just as committed, disciplined and awakened to God’s joy and presence now as when we first believed. May God speak to us in clear and powerful ways and may we have ears to listen and hearts ready to receive. May our lives be renewed and restored, and may we trust that God will uphold us today, tomorrow and forevermore!
I talk to my students a lot about not being afraid to take chances, leaps of faith, embrace change. It’s a message that clearly resonates with college students and young adults who are consistently coming and going in residence halls, with roommates, doing internships, studying abroad, and one day graduating and hopefully finding first jobs and new communities.
But as you know, it’s sometimes hard to practice what you preach. It’s hard to move out of comfort zones. It’s hard to put yourself out there. It’s hard to rock the boat.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. Nor does that mean that we’re not called to do it.
On February 29th – ironically – Leap Day – I interviewed for the Pastor/Director position at Gator Wesley in Gainesville, Florida. As y’all know that was a pretty big leap for us but one that we all had prayed about and were excited about – though I admittedly was terrified as well – duh. I was trying to live into what I tell my students a bit and I posted on facebook, “Can’t help but thinking about “leaping” today. I don’t know if one would necessarily leap into Lent or the wilderness, but I hope we can leap into growing on our journey with God, loving in community, and taking risks and acting in faith in our callings and the living of our lives!”
The thing that I love about community and the comings and the goings is that just because things change, that doesn’t mean that what was shared wasn’t precious or that love and life and story shared just goes away. But we continue to journey and take risks and answer callings.
So in that vein – we “leaped.” The Jeter fam will be moving to Gainesville this summer and someone else will be leaping to Winthrop Wesley. Prayers for these comings and goings and a huge thanks to all of those fellow journeyers out there! May we all be ready to leap when God opens a window!