When helping hurts...
Have you ever tried to pry open a rose bud so you could enjoy the beauty of the color inside? Fact is, the bud needs to go through a period of time and process so that a bloom appears worthy of taking your breath away. My impatience would probably lend itself to a new start-up business. Wouldn't a business name like, "The Fractured Rose" compel you to buy flowers at my store?
As some of you know, I have started garden plants and they are coming along nicely....well most are anyway. I have found myself checking these plants a couple times a day. I probably water them more than they need to be watered. Why just the other day, I mixed some water and plant food and used a gravy baster to drop the mixture on top of the peat pots.
Look closely at the photo, paying extra attention to the plant in the lower left. The little thing suffered plant food inadvertently landing on the stem and leaves. The power of the fertilizer actually burned the plant and four day after, it is finally looking like it might actually survive. There was another plant that simply wilted and died because of my negligence.
In our world, there are many people who have walked away from God because of too much help...or the wrong kind of help. An author recently wrote a book entitled, "They like Jesus, but not the church." (Kimball). Kimball pointed out ways in which we church folk attempt to will people into God's redemptive plan. Maybe "strongarm" is a better verb to use as believers herd people together and try to help in condemning and coercive ways. Judgmental attitudes in church goers were also identified as another detriment in attempts to bring more people to Jesus.
I have tried to help folks outside the church and probably did more harm than good. Sort of like my faux pas with the tomato plants. Too much of a good thing may not be what is called for in a given situation.
Planting seeds, providing water, warm sun, and giving time a chance to produce that which we hope for is the pattern. Often, we plant seeds, add water, and warm sun, then figuratively dig up the seeds and try to pry them open so they germinate quicker...
Let's think of a new way to work in God's kingdom. Let's plant seeds of hope. Let's provide the living water of Christ. Let's utilize plant foods in the correct dosage. Let's allow God's perfect timing to bring all these ingredients together and produce a crop that will take our breath away. He can do it and wants to use us in this process. Be a good friend to those who are living away from a faith community. Love them. Pray for them. Encourage them. Wait for God to do the internal work. Rejoice and celebrate with them when they see Jesus.
"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters
is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have
one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor." (1 Corinthians 3:6-8, NIV)