This December, at the beginning of the month Samuel and I dedicated an area of our Lodge to plant trees that bear fruit. We planted avocados, custard apples, plums, guavas and bougainvillea for decoration. We made big holes to fill with gardening soil specially meant for giving the plants all the nutrients they needed, we used biodegradable fertilizer and even set up and automatic irrigation system so they would be properly watered. We had tried to grow trees before and they had eventually perished or stalled their growth, so this time we were all in, the trees had to grow.
It’s been almost a month now and though the plants are actually alive they look exactly the same as the day we planted them, not an inch of growth… I understand that fruit trees in particular are very slow to grow and that it may be at least a year until we see some changes and many years until we actually see some fruit (it can take an avocado tree up to 10 years to bear fruit). Still, it is frustrating and this experience is helping me understand how impatient I am. It is almost a living metaphor to what we are experiencing at the CS Montañita chapter.
I had heard before that ministry could be frustrating, but until Samuel and I fully dedicated ourselves to the CS Montañita chapter I hadn’t really understood the meaning of that phrase. It is very trying to see that all your hard work doesn’t necessarily show. What happens when the fruit is not there?
The kids we work with in CS are young and although they are really good kids they still want to experience many new things that may not necessarily be the path that God wants for them. They have to go out there and live by themselves what it is to be young, what it means to become an adult and what it means to be a Christian. They have to realize that it comes a day when you search for God not because your parents/leaders ask you to, but because you need him. And we as a leaders can only watch and pray for them to make the right decisions and for the fruit of our work to show. Sometimes it does, but there are also times when we can’t see it and it is then when frustration comes.
In a way, this experience has helped me to sympathize with my leaders and parents and understand the difficulty of their job. I haven’t really talked to anyone about it but I’m sure that’s how we all feel. Discipleship is hard, especially when we don’t get to spend as much time with the kids as we would want (we are not full time missionaries).
Anyway, there I was after a crappy surf session in Montañita wondering about the meaning of it all and whether there was any point to it at all (we had been having a flat spell that didn’t help the situation) when I found myself meditating about 1 Corinthians 3:6. In this passage Apostle Paul says: “My work was to plant the seed in your hearts, and Apollos’ work was to water it, but it was God, not we, who made the garden grow in your hearts”. And there it was, the meaning to it all and the answer to my prayers. God was telling me that there are workers who sow, workers who water and workers who harvest, but it is God alone who can make the seeds grow. It didn’t matter if I didn’t see the fruit, I might never get to see the fruit, but God had put Samuel and me in Montañita to plant and to water and he would take care of the rest in his own time.
It is very funny how one word from God can destroy discouragement in a second. It was as if God was validating our work. It didn’t matter anymore if the kids were not over spiritual soon to become pastors. We are in Montañita to deliver his word to anyone who wants to hear it and we trust the word of God when it says in Isaiah 55:10-11
“Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.”
Lord, we trust that your word preached in the CS Montañita chapter will not come back empty-handed. It will do its work of making things grow and blossom, even if we cannot see it.