In His time

Our one flower this summer

Our one flower this summer

Just recently, our first potted flower bloomed.

For almost three months, we had been waiting. Every day, we inspected each pot for signs of color and growth.

Blooms take awhile.

This spring we planted four different flower pots. Within a week, little green shoots broke through the dirt to meet the sun, and we cheered! We wanted as many flowers as possible to brighten our walkway.

We waited, and waited and waited.

Growth was painfully slow. The plants in three of the pots had steady progress and leaves began to form. One pot had a few clover-like pokes, but never flourished. The flowers never showed.

My son took ownership of watering the plants and feeding the dog this summer, and one morning he raced into the house yelling for us all to come outside because something amazing had happened. We threw on our flip flops and followed him out to be greeted by one tiny, beautiful purple flower.

Whenever we invest ourselves in a project, or ministry, or person, we almost always have expectations. We want the reward of seeing success, that there was a reason we gave our time and energy. We often serve with strings attached. It’s frustrating when we give, and give, and give, and nothing happens. No change takes place. We don’t see what’s below the surface. We wait. And when the results never turn up or languish in the hot sun, we become disappointed and even disillusioned. We wonder why we even wasted our time.

As we have been waiting on the flowers to show up, God has also been giving me opportunities to wait on Him for growth. He is bringing me through circumstances where I am frustrated and tempted to bail. There are moments when I don’t like to exercise patience and frankly don’t want to learn the greater lesson. Yet, obedience is always more important than results. Because the results aren’t up to me anyway. God always has a purpose. He WILL make a way (even if it’s not my way).

So, I wait. I trust. I must let go of me in order to become more like Christ.

Whatever Jesus plants will always grow. And He has planted His seed of salvation in my heart. I am His. God promised me that He would finish what He started.

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.
– Philippians 1:6 (AMP)

One day, the flowers will bloom, if not in the pots in my yard, in the soil of my heart.

Gardening with a little girl (involving children in ministry)

Lauren choose all pink flowers to plant

Lauren chose all pink flowers to plant

Involving children in your ministry can be messy. They will have the potential to be exposed to things you’d rather shield them from. A schedule will be harder to keep. They will see you at your very best and sometimes very worst.

Your children will also get a front-row seat to grace. They will get to experience what it means to be the Body of Christ first-hand. They will see the joy of serving others. They will witness prayers answered, and what it means to wait on the Lord. They will learn that being a Christian isn’t passive, it is life in action.

Children need to see their parents loving Jesus out loud through ministry. They need us to involve them in tangibly loving others and sharing the Gospel, even if it’s inconvenient and not as “efficient” with little ones in tow.

Last week, Lauren came home from church with a flower for me. She was so excited about this little flower, I decided that we would plant it, along with several other flowers in a few pots to add some color around our house. And, by color, I mean pink, because that’s the only color that was acceptable to her as we walked through the garden center at Walmart. For those who know me, and how hard I avoid gardening of any kind, this was a big deal!

We got all our supplies out, and then began getting the pots and dirt ready for the flowers.

Lauren thought she would go play on the swing-set and enjoy the flowers once they were planted. I had other plans.

I knew it was important for her to experience the planting process, to see for herself what it was like to plant and take care of the flowers she had been given.

So, for the morning, I got to garden with my little girl.

She helped put the dirt in the pots, which was not her favorite part. Her hands got dirty, which was terrible to her. She filled the watering can and lugged it back to the pots. She watered the dirt to prepare it. She helped plant the flowers and bury the seeds. She watered everything once more.

She now had ownership in these flowers, and has been tasked to water them, especially now that the weather has skipped right into summer this week.

plantingflowers

Ministry should not just be for adults, for mommy and daddy only. Our kids need to be involved, take ownership in areas they can take on, be involved in prayer for people and needs. They need to understand that ministry is hard work, and be along with us to do that hard work whenever possible and appropriate.

I am by no means a perfect parent and I often fail in the areas God has given me to serve Him. But, my children can also see God’s grace and forgiveness at work, even in me, when ministry doesn’t go the way I had hoped or when I make mistakes.

One of the most beautiful results in gardening is seeing flowers grow and bloom. You play the small part of digging the dirt and scattering the seeds, while God brings the sun and rain and life.

Ministry is like that, too. God brings the results and new life. But, He invites us to get our hands dirty and love people, sharing the hope we have that comes from Jesus.

When we bring along our children to work with us in ministry, they see Jesus alive in us, and how He can and will transform people, just as He makes the flowers bloom.