July 20, 2020by Reverend Dan on July 20, 2020
“For by him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.”
I’m getting too old for this . . . this being yardwork. I spend a couple of days every week in our yard and I’ve got to say, one of the perks of being home so much is the effect it has had on our yard. Every week I find myself getting a little more detailed with the upkeep and buying tools I used to make fun of people for owning.
As I sat at the end of one of those yard days recently, trying to muster up enough strength to get up and walk into the house, I was asking myself why I did this and why it had become so important to me? Sure, just like everyone else I like a nice-looking yard. I don’t want to be “that guy” in the neighborhood, the one with the unkept lawn. But slowly I started to realize it was something else as well.
In the yard, I can see results right away. When it’s freshly mowed, when the weeds have been pulled out of the flowerbeds, when an area I’m clearing starts to look different. There are immediate and noticeable results.
Looking back over the past twenty-two years of pastoring, I’ve realized that I don’t often get to see the results of my preaching. I plant some seeds, but then God takes over in people’s souls and does His work in private.
When I read today’s scripture, it helped remind me that as much as I’d like to, I don’t need to see the results. Preaching is not an immediate gratification exercise. Sure, sometimes people may give us immediate feedback – positive or negative – and it can lift us up or crush us in the moment. But that doesn’t really shine any light on what God’s doing. Not the end result anyway. In fact, in John’s gospel Jesus tells us that any fruit we bear should give God the glory. The real fruit of any preaching should grow in places we can’t see, where God is working the soil of our souls.
So, the question becomes, “what if I never know the results? Am I good with that?” Every day I get a little more okay with it. Every day my yearning to know “if I got through” lessens, and I’m able to let go of that craving for visible and immediate results. I’m trusting Jesus takes over and does His work long after I’m finished with my part.
Ray Boltz has a song called “Thank You for Giving to the Lord” and it speaks of a man who goes to heaven and only then does he realize the lives he has touched. It’s a great reminder that we will never know what we accomplish for God here.
Immediate results feel good for a moment. It’s the eternal ones that matter.
“Father, Thank you for giving us a small part in serving you, and for the work you bring to completion. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.”