I imagine a future moment when God turns us around in heaven to show us how He used our lives for His purposes. Surely, I am not the only one hoping to see He used me mightily, right? You hope the same.
Like Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, Peter, Paul.
Yes. I am that bold in desire.
Not that I am anywhere close to the caliber of these heroes of the faith, but that the RESULTS of my life for eternity can be just as magnificent. Is that even possible?
Yes. That is completely possible.
The source of such confidence is not in myself. The source of my confidence is in God, His promises and the principles of the Kingdom of God. The secret of doing great things for God does not begin with what we hear about these days – vision boards and dreaming big. Sure, reflecting about our dreams may help us identify some desires God placed in us with His very own hand, but how our dreams are realized, or if those dreams are realized, is His business, not ours.
I don’t think we can know what God is up to with our lives.
His story is global and includes all of time. How can we dare to think we would know our part? Even as I write, I know I have been influenced by the world and the ever-increasing presence of cultural Christianity and social media. I still also sin, so I cannot automatically presume I hear God without error or see clearly the path ahead. God is the only one who knows the good purposes for which each of us were created, so I propose He is the only one who knows the path to get those purposes accomplished.
But we can know for certain He will use our lives mightily.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
To many — including me — my life is small. I am aging. I work at an institution that is not Ivy League. I live in a modest home and earn a modest income. In our youth-obsessed, title happy society, my list of accomplishments is of little interest to many people.
Why does that matter? From a human perspective, I know that some people will see me and decide by my appearance not to greet me. Some who introduce themselves and engage in small talk will dismiss me after hearing a few details that are shared and decide there is no further interest in developing a relationship with me.
Don’t dismiss these communication concepts too quickly or think I am being too hard on myself. Such rapid decisions based on shallow and stereotypical information are made quickly by all of us . Pay attention to how you greet some people while standing in line but not others. What is the basis for those decisions? Do you say hello to young mothers but not old ladies? Whites but not blacks? Well dressed but not sloppy? Or are your decisions based on yourself — like your mood, appearance, or your level of willingness to expend energy in that particular moment? Be prepared to see some truths that are hard to face. Talk to God about it all and let Him cleanse your heart.
Again, why do these things matter to me? Knowing the reality of how quickly each of us is dismissed means a whole bunch of people miss out on seeing the gospel message that lives in my heart.
And that makes me sad.
My comfort – and yours – is knowing that no matter how insignificant, haphazard or few our relationships with people –
we will bear fruit for the Kingdom as long as we are walking with God.
Just like an apple tree does not work hard at bearing apples; just like an oak tree does not work hard at bearing acorns; as you and I are walking with God, we will not have to work hard at bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God. We will work to plant seeds, but we will exert no energy in making those seeds grow. The principle of this world says, “The more you put in, the more you get out.” But the principle of the Kingdom of God is, “Once you are walking closely with me….
put in anything at all, and unbelievable results will occur.”
Consider the mustard seed: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32, emphasis mine)
In God’s hands, everything you and I do while attached to the Vine — while walking closely with God — will produce miraculous results. No contribution made for God ends up being small in the end.
Welcome to the glorious Kingdom of God.
Picture Explanation: Once you see the trunk of a tree, you know the fruit it will produce. No matter how others respond to us, always remember: We do the planting. He does the growing. And the growing is always mind-blowing.
The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
© 2020 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.
Yes, I too Laurie want to hear a well done.
The importance of having an eternal perspective everyday we live makes the difference. You my dear friend taught me this over 40 years ago. Love all the seeds you planted in my heart.
I can’t wait to see what God did with those seeds planted 40 years ago. The total picture of what He is doing with each of us is obscured from our vision but God gives us little peepholes to keep us going, and one of my little glimpses of what He can do is what He started in a factory between you and me decades ago. Oh, good things are done by God absolutely everywhere and anywhere for anyone who dares trust Him.
Hi, Friend. I loved these thoughts: “We will bear fruit for the Kingdom as long as we are walking with God” and “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn. —Ralph Waldo Emerson”
Thank you for the encouragement. It isn’t complicated. We just walk with God; He does the rest.
Ahhh, one acorn that bears one tree that bears 10,000 acorns a year (I looked that up) and lives on average 300 years (I looked that up)–what a forest that acorn bears. So the average oak tree will bear 3,000,000 acorns assuming it reaches maturity and lives another 300 years after that. Truly, when one seed falls to the ground and dies, it bears many seeds (Jn 12:24).
Mustard Seed Math, right Friend?
Mustard seed math, indeed. The language of friends. A biblical principle. A beautiful thing.
I made a lot of typos in this post that I fixed Sunday morning. It always makes me sad that my subscribers get the mistakes. As I was fixing them this week, I have a few favorite sentences myself: 1) We will work to plant seeds, but we will exert no energy in making those seeds grow. 2) Once you are walking closely with [God], put in anything at all, and unbelievable results will occur.
And I love my friend who looks up facts about acorns. THANK YOU for sharing what bearing fruit means! This is it, folks. This is what will be happening to every single thing we do as we walk in faith. Go facedown before God again today and then live one more day with Him again. Just keep going, everyone.
I love the ways of the Lord. Hope for all. Anyone can participate. All are welcome. All are valuable.
I loved your message. It is so encouraging! I tend to feel like making a difference in people’s lives for the Lord is hard and takes a lot of time, when really it is just by loving God and desiring Him. If I do that, the fruits of the spirit of God in me (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) will naturally overflow out of my life and bless others. I just have to stay connected to the vine, and let God do the work in the hearts of those whose lives I touch. Thank you for the reminder that little kindnesses are big blessings for others and make a big difference for eternity!
Hi, Tish. I like what you said in the last sentence. Little kindnesses are big blessings and make a big difference for eternity. Thanks!
Thank you, Leann. Your posts always bless me!
I too can get caught up in feeling like making a difference in people’s lives for the Lord is hard, but writing this post was a good reminder that you and I don’t try to make a difference in people’s lives. W don’t have such power. You and I plant seeds.
We just plant seeds. He makes them grow.
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as 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. (1 Corinthians 3:5-7)
And I can tell you, my friend, that the number of seeds you have planted cannot be counted. I wait eagerly to see what God has done with each one. Get the fireworks ready. 🙂
Thank you for all the seeds you have planted in my life, Laurie! You are a blessing!
I missed this last week! When I think of all the seeds you have planted in me….and the faithful support you have demonstrated for Oaks…this seed planting thing has gone both ways, my friend.
Well written, Laurie. Good thoughts, good reminders, good challenge to never underestimate what God can/might do in/through/inspite of us as well as a call to see people not as the world sees them, but as God does. Some people have so much potential that is never released simply because they were never given a chance by anyone, never encouraged by anyone. But when just one other person begins to see that potential and encourage them to unlock it, great things happen. May we always seek to unlock the potential in others. The apple seeds sitting on the shelf will grow no trees and bear no fruit there. Someone has to plant them. That is our duty towards others. On the other side, even Joseph could bear fruit while toiling away in a prison, as a foreigner at that! And then he was overlooked again for a long time even after blessing the king’s servants with the interpretation of their dreams. Ultimately, whether anyone gives us any opportunity or encouragement or not, God sees and knows what we have done and whether we did all we could with what we had. So we aim high whether any person sees us or not. We need to aim to encourage the people around us, trying not to overlook the potential in anyone we meet, expecting no person to ever lift us up the way Pharaoh did Joseph. Aim high! Go all out, God will be the ultimate judge of what we did with what He gave us.
I love the story of Joseph. It gives me much hope.
May we have no favoritism in our eyes and dealings with people. May we see all people as image bearers of a holy God, first introducing them to Jesus and then guiding them to ever-increasing maturity. The potential for each of us to live a life that counts for eternity has been put there by God. Yes, friend, may we see it in everyone.
Thank you for living your entire life with such a perspective.
God is in control.
Of EVERYTHING in our lives.
Whether you think you are planting seeds, growing, watering, etc…
ALL is ultimately under the control and direction of Our Creator.
He will take care of the rest.
“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”
Proverbs 16:9 NASB
Hello. It’s great to “see” you. I am still praying for you and your wife to enjoy God’s Word this year. Makes me smile.
You are right. God is in control of EVERYTHING. Such a comfort. May we all continue to seek, love, praise, sacrifice, trust. What a good list.
And He takes care of the rest.
My heart is refreshed already on this Monday morning. Thank you.
Absolutely loved this as it was much needed. I think we often get tired or worn out because we are trying too hard to make it happen when, as you said in the post, it’s our job to work to plant the seed but not exert any energy to get it to grow. Jesus says that his yoke is easy and his burden is light and I believe that when we walk in step with where God is, not holding back out of lack or fear and not pushing forward too hard/fast to make it all happen on our own, sowing seeds and bearing fruit won’t be difficult. It’ll simply be the way we peacefully and purposefully live life. I often feel like I’m not doing enough for the Kingdom because I don’t “see” a ton of fruit or I compare my ministry to other people’s who seem more successful. But it’s the beautiful reminder God gives that we are called to walk by FAITH not by sight. So by faith I am declaring that God will take whatever little I bring and turn it into infinitely more than I could on my own because that is the Kingdom of God.
I have had to wrestle this out with God myself. We have similar lion-sized hearts. He is so pleased with you. He looks at hearts, remember? 🙂
Galatians 6:9: Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
I am cheering you on.