Pastor Kevin Redding
Adult Ministries Pastor, Shiloh Community Church
I recently returned from my 7th trip leading a team to Latvia. This small, former
Soviet, Eastern-block country holds a special place in my heart. It’s been exciting to see the students whose lives have been affected by our times there. It’s been just as exciting to see the lives of those who have gone as part of our church teams being changed and impacted by Christ. I am confident that each and every person who has gone has experienced some sort of growth in their dependence upon Christ. I know that I can look back on each trip and see specifically what God has shown me…about Him and myself.
This year on Wednesday, I was a little down. I had a couple of conversations that
had me doubting the impact that we were making during our time at camp. As I look back, this is a common thing to experience mid-week, but in the moment it was getting to me. So I decided to walk, and pray (and cry…there’s nothing like a good mid-week cry on a missions trip). As I prayed—affirming my belief that God’s Word (and call) doesn’t return void, knowing that we weren’t wasting those 2 weeks and all the money that was donated so we could go—I walked by some pretty impressive gardens. The people of Latvia grow most of their vegetables and fruit to sustain them during the winter months. As I admired their gardens, God put the thought in my head, “things grow in Arizona too…it just has different soil.”
I started thinking about that. The ground in Latvia is soft and fresh and fertile. Things grow easily there, but it still takes work for the people to plant and weed and care for their gardens in order for the plants to produce the “fruit”. The ground in Arizona is hard and rocky, and takes much, much more work for the farmer to get it in condition to
bear fruit. In Latvia, the frequent rain ensures the plants get watered. In Arizona, the
farmer has to work additionally hard to water and make sure the scorching sun doesn’t kill the plant (as evidence by my backyard). Different soils, different climates, different
amounts of work by the farmers, but still sufficient crops.
After my walk and prayer time, I opened up the Bible to I Corinthians 3:6-14 “ 6 I
planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.”
I was reminded that we are called to obedience—whether to plant or water or
harvest—and not called to produce any sort of fruit. That’s God’s job. However, I think you would agree that harvesting is a lot more fun than planting, or removing rocks, or laying fertilizer, or watering…you get the idea. We often get frustrated when God calls us to farm, but doesn’t set us in the middle of a field ready for harvest. We question God when He calls us to obedience, then takes His time to reveal the results. It’s in those times that we must “be still and know that (He) is God” and remember that He is never slow about His promise, He just works in His time that is much different than ours.
How was this trip? Life-changing as always. I needed to be reminded that (1) I’m
called to faithful obedience and nothing more; (2) evangelism & discipleship takes time and effort; (3) God is faithful and works in His timing; (3) fruit is being produced even when we don’t see what’s happening inside the soil or plants; and (4) God’s Word & calling NEVER returns void.
I’m sure there will be more as I continue to process the past couple of weeks, but in
the meantime, I’ll be a faithful farmer no matter the soil that He puts me in.