Ever planted a garden? Perhaps I should ask, ever planted a successful garden? It is an investment–a continuous investment of time and energy. There is planting, weeding, watering, pruning, feeding, weeding, watering, keeping critters away, harvesting. The results depend on the type of soil, the temperature, the amount of water–most of these things can be out of your control. Drought, insects, heat…they can all wreak havoc.
Disciple-making is like planting a garden. There is the development, over time, of relationship. You feed it, water it with the word, care for it. However, you do not control a person’s heart. This is a matter of trust in God, pointing to God, praying and repeating the whole process again.
People often come for a quick fix–“make me better, please rescue me!” You have a choice to respond to them by placing an external bandaid or to tread to the deep waters of God’s truth and help them learn to know God and rely on His truth and presence in the midst of pain. The external bandaid is as easy as going to the grocery store to get your veggies–it takes some time and investment but is relatively quick. The one thing about the grocery store is the food runs out and another fix is needed.
Internal change of the heart is a long process, but it is the best kind of harvest. Good fruit begets good fruit. There is a lot of weeding in the process, though. Patience and prayer are a must. The disciple-maker (planter) grows in the process as well. The water of God’s word and His Spirit are the only hope of growth–true growth.
In the heat, you may want to give up–never even seeing a hope for fruit to bloom. The True Gardener must be your source–for from Him come water, food, encouragement, discernment to tell weeds from fruit. There is an enemy, a pest, that keeps attacking and whispering the hopelessness of expecting fruit.
That enemy has whispered more than once in my ear. I have believed him more than once, as well. However, the True Gardener keeps shouting “be patient, remember the fruit I’ve brought in the past, pray, be in My truth.” He shouted that to me about this young woman, and I am oh so glad that I listened. For I get to see a beautiful harvest not brought about from an external bandaid, but a Merciful, Kind, Powerful, Grace-Giving Savior.