Two years ago I planted two trees in my front yard. One is a dwarf pear tree and the other is a dwarf winesap apple tree. Hope (5 at the time and just starting kindergarten) wanted immediately to know when they would produce fruit. “Years” were not a concept she could grasp, so I explained that fruit may come when Ben (2 at the time) started school. She grasped this idea and has waited patiently.
This spring the kids are almost 7 and almost 4 and I told them that pre-school for Ben in the fall didn’t count, so they had to wait one more year. Several weeks later there were flowers on the trees (which my kids know is where the fruit is produced, just like peppers or tomatoes or pumpkins) and so Hope asked again, but I assured her that this was just the trees’ way of getting ready for next year.
I have to admit, though, that my heart also leaped a little at the sight of the flowers – hope was in those flowers – the possibility of fruit coming forth was in those flowers. The pear tree had one branch that had more than a dozen flowers, but all the other branches were bare. The apple tree actually had about 20 flowers scattered all around the tree. So, dutiful little bumble bee that I aspire to be, I took my paintbrush and pollinated all the flowers on both trees knowing that the likelihood of fruit was very slim. But if fruit didn’t come, I certainly didn’t want it to be because I was a lazy bee!
It seems to me that our ministry life feels much like my mini-orchard. I don’t just want to be a seed planter! Gardeners and farmers alike plant seeds with hope and expectation of fruit. So why might we tell others about Christ and walk away saying “at least I planted a seed”?? I’m not into knocking on random doors to share a tract and walk away. I’m in ministry to build relationships, mentor and disciple and see fruit. Just as in my garden, fruit does not always come but I pray it will never be because I was a lazy bee. In my garden and in my ministry I will never plant seeds and walk away. I will always stick around, pruning, deadheading, weeding when necessary, waiting and mostly expecting to find fruit someday.