This year the Community Bible Study group that I’m involved with is studying the gospel of Matthew this year. ( I consider it fair warning to let you know that I’ll probably be posting about Matthew frequently on the blog over the next few months.) This week we had our first day of training, and as a children’s teacher, I sat in and listened to my children’s director give a devotional on our children using Matthew 13.
She talked about how the children in our classes were the soil and that we were planting and cultivating the seed in their lives. Then, she said the most amazing thing that blew me away.
First, she gave an example. She said that she and her husband had had tomato plants and that they learned how to take care of them and had done exactly what they were supposed to. She described their excitement when the tomato plants began to bear fruit.
Then, she gave another example. She had gotten some pots of flowers and had cared for them exactly the way she was supposed to. To her shock and horror, however, the plants had shriveled up and wilted. She thought they were dead and gave up, walking by her pots of dead plants each day. Then, one day she noticed that a stalk was growing up in the plant that she thought had died. It wasn’t the life she had expected when she had been cultivating the plants. It wasn’t the results she had looked for. However, something was growing in the soil that she had written off.
She used this example to remind us not to give up on watering and cultivating our students with God’s word, even when we didn’t feel like we were getting the results that we’d like to have. After all, God might be doing a work in our students that we just didn’t see yet. After all, Galatians 6:9 says:
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
At the same time, as I was sitting there, I began thinking about all the situations I’d become discouraged with at seeing what I felt like was no spiritual growth in the children I was teaching or the ladies I was working with. Sometimes, I’ve even found myself in the situation where I’ve wondered if teaching was worth the effort. (Ministry can be just as wearying to the soul as any other job/task.) God also, as I was sitting there, gave me I Corinthians 3: 5-9.
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
I was deeply reminded that the increase in a person’s spiritual growth is not my burden, and I had been taking it on as such. I was also reminded that the growth may not be anything like what I was expecting or may not look like what I was hoping. After all, each person’s faith is vibrantly their own. So, instead, I should be reminded to just do my part and pray to the lord to give the increase. In his own way. In his own time. And for his own glory.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Parable of the Soils, I’ve written more about it here:
- Being Choked Out By the World–A devotional look at the Parable of the Sower in my life
- Our Parable of the Sower Books–This is me showing off a project my children worked on
- Parable of the Sower: A List of Elementary Aged Video and Notebooking Resources–These are some great resources that I rounded up if you decide to do a unit study on the parable of the Sower with Preschool-5th grade children.