I Corinthians 3:5-7 (NLT) After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.
For a few months now, I have been refinishing a table. It was thrown away like garbage, posted on line as a “curb side” alert. In my heart, I saw a new project piece and immediately thought of someone I knew who could use a gift. She was going through some difficulties in life and I felt the Lord impressing on my heart to bless her. It usually doesn’t take me this long to work on the furniture I find, but this process has been revealing. It seems that every time I begin to work on the table it turns out to be more of a task than before. Just sanding out all the marks and blemishes on the tabletop took days. It had been well-used to the point of abuse. The person who I have been repurposing the table for has been going through her own troubled time of transition. I know that for the last couple of years, the Lord put her in my path for encouragement, instruction and guidance through rough passages. However, just like the table, I have discovered that sometimes God doesn’t always make our work as believers a walk in the park.
I set out this weekend to finally finish the table so it can make its way to her house. I applied stain to the sanded top. I love this step in the process. To see the wood soak in the new color and watch a piece come to life. Well, not this time. The stain revealed some more imperfections that would require additional sanding and retracing some steps. After many attempts to get it just right, I walked away and began working on an old chair for our guest room. It is almost done. The painting went perfectly. The sanding a piece of cake. Recovering the seat was simple and I had enough leftover fabric to match the antique footstool. I stained the back of the chair reluctantly but it was perfect on the first try. Why is the chair taking a couple hours but this table just won’t seem to cooperate? Why isn’t the person who I have been supporting and believing God to renew and restore leaving unfinished? Why is she moving on? Why doesn’t she get it? God, have I let you down? Did I not do enough, say enough, or believe enough for the seed of Your Word to produce much fruit? Sometimes in life, God leaves work unfinished.
I planted. Oh boy, did I sow some seed in this situation. But the one day, the gate to the field closed. No more seed could penetrate the hard ground. The wishy washy rain of uncertainty seemed to wash many of them away. The leaves sprouting up looked like it might bear much fruit but alas it was all just a cover. Apollos, are you watering? There are many times that work is left unfinished but will not be undone. We must not stop planting just because we do not see God’s Increase. I think of all the people who sowed good seed in my life that was watered by others. Confirmed by more than one, just now revealing blossoms of fruit yet to come. I understand the process of growth takes time and many seasons. Sometimes, I must be reminded that God gives all increase. Human nature wants the satisfaction of seeing the harvest but with the Lord trust is obedience that continues to plant and water in the absence of harvest.
Ephesians 1:22-23 (NLT) God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.
It is safe to say that my elbow will never meet my nose naturally. I cannot touch my nose with my elbow. Yet they are valuable and important parts of the same body. The cells in my nose have the same DNA as the ones in my elbow. The same brain makes them all work together. The blood that nourishes my nose is the same flow that reaches my elbow. Sometimes it is important to remember that the same body must remain connected even if they cannot reach the other. My hand and knee can reach my elbow even though my nose cannot. However, my nose doesn’t abandon my body or the elbow cease to move because of its lack of proximity. Just because the person you have invested time, energy and maybe even resources into does not necessarily “get it” or leaves our life an unfinished work doesn’t mean you were not faithful or seeds unfruitful. God evaluates our faithfulness to Him. Our dedication to love and be loved. Our commitment to Christ to become complete lacking no good thing. He doesn’t expect us to plant, water and grow. He expects us to be faithful, hopeful and loving. I am an unfinished work just like my friend. I must never forget who the One is that makes us full and complete – His Name is Jesus.
I Corinthians 13:11-13 (NLT) When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
I must be completely honest. Lately I have just wanted to drag the table I am working on out to the trash. As my frustration grew with the person, I suddenly abhorred the process of giving the gift. I know I am a terrible person. I didn’t do it. I have been rubbing, painting, sanding and staining just the same. It is hard to remember all the Christ has done for us once leaving the past behind. All the people who deposited His Love and Truth labeled the Gospel in our life. Sharing the Gospel is our privilege. The purpose of the Gospel is to love. I can give sound instruction. I can stand right by your side. I can encourage you when you are down. I can even hold you when you cry. However, if someone decides to chase after something else. Wander off into the wilderness. Or even just turn and walk way – it doesn’t end there. I am must still love them and pray for them just the same. I have done my part to plant good seed. I have tried my best to be the Light. Now I must wait and watch for the Lord to give His Blessing and Increase – in His Time according to His Plan. Lord, teach me to see that every seed comes from You. The Word I use for water to a dry and thirsty soul – it is You, Jesus. I cannot take ownership of the process that you created and divinely instituted. I am called to love. Let me love every unfinished work in my life with the unconditional and faithful love that deposits new mercy and overflowing goodness in my life each day.
Colossians 2:6-10 (NLT) And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
It looks like the table I have worked on so long will be finished today. God’s Word in my heart is to let it go. He is working all things together for this young woman as He promises to do for me as well. (Romans 8:28) This trust without borders things extends pretty far in our Christian walk as we sow seeds in every area of our life. When we choose to sow good seed in people, it is never wasted. There will be an Apollos down the road to water or maybe many more. The principle to hold on to, have faith in and find glory in is that God ALWAYS gives the increase. His Word will not return to Him void so if that is what you are sowing there will always be harvest down the road. Good seed will find its way through a furrowed, fertile heart so sometimes it is necessary to stumble or even fall to break a hard heart. Sometimes it takes a little darkness to find the Light of His Love. It is our union with Christ that gives us anything worthwhile to give. Sometimes I lose sight of the One who is doing the work focusing too much on what I am doing. My work is nothing without Jesus Christ.
Colossians 2:1-3(NLT) I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” These are the words in Revelation to the church of Laodicea. Paul “agonized” for these believers who were becoming lackadaisical about their ministry and calling to Christ. Lukewarm is the term used. As believers, it is our job to sow generously into the lives of other people. We are called to love them even when the work of God in them is not meeting our growth expectation. I am a planter. I am a waterer. From time to time, I am even a harvester. However, in all things – God is the increaser. Christ is the completer. I am only his servant. Nothing good can come from my life outside of Jesus Christ. God’s Power works through the more I am humbled by His Grace. People will pass through our life like seed falling through a farmer’s hand. It is up to me to plant the ones that need planting, water the thirsty and in all things trust the Lord for increase. Human nature would be to be weary in well doing when I do not see the outcome. To become tired of investing my time in people who just don’t seem to get it. To allow unmet expectation dissuade me from my purpose. Not today!
My prayer for all people who cross my path is this: “I want them to be encouraged and kit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.” I want them to discover “all the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge” that allow us to be complete lacking nothing in life. The Lord promises to perfect all that concerns me in Psalm 138:8. Today I entrust You, Lord with every unfinished work in my life. If it is in me, Lord I give myself back to You today for increase. Examine my life. Clean me up. Restore me. Lead me to the abundance and fulfillment hidden in my life. If the unfinished work is in others, forgive me for my bad attitude – Lord of the Harvest – increase their faith, hope and love today.
2 Corinthians 7:1 (NLT) Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.