Maybe you saw me crawling around gathering acorns that windy afternoon. If you did, you probably wondered if I had finally lost what was left of my mind and morphed from ministry wife into oversized squirrel. But that’s not it at all. I was gathering those cute little nuts for an object lesson, and while on my knees on the damp ground, the Lord taught me one.
The acorns were buried in fallen leaves. As I scooped hundreds of them from their damp, cozy nests, I looked up into the oak’s spreading branches and felt like apologizing. These were the mother tree’s babies, after all–her hope for the next generation. She had dropped them onto the ground hoping that they would find fertile soil, sprout, and grow up beside her. But I knew that no apology was necessary. She was a mature oak, after all, and she knew that if every one of her acorns grew into a tree, there would soon be thousands of trees impossibly crowded around her roots. She never expected all of them to grow.
So why work so hard at producing acorns? Because some of them will grow! If she drops just one acorn, a squirrel or a nut like me might come along and steal it. But if she drops thousands of them, some will sprout. A few will develop into baby trees, and one’maybe just one’will endure to become another tall oak.
Her job isn’t to insure their survival, though she offers her leaves as cushions, fertilizer, and shade. She just does her job sowing abundantly right where she lives. How many grow, and how many survive, is the Creator’s responsibility.
Sometimes it seems that the ministry involves too much sowing and too little reaping. We drop gospel seeds in many hearts, but few respond. We teach Bible truths over and over and over, but too many don’t hear, don’t believe, don’t apply, don’t change. It can be terribly discouraging unless we remember this: our job is just to sow abundantly and nurture lovingly. It’s the Lord’s part (and His promise) to give fruit that remains. Some of those seeds will grow. Success lies in the sowing, not in the reaping.
My leafy friend didn’t look a bit discouraged. She stood tall and strong. She had done her part; she was a success!  I left with a bag heavy with her acorns, and with a heart made lighter by her lesson.
Copyright 2010 ‘ Press On! Ministries

The Desert

Come with me to the desert. We’ll drive through shimmering sunlight along a flat, straight highway. The scenery that is so striking at sunset is dreary at noon, a panorama of drab beige. Dusty green sagebrush, spindly creosote, and spiny cacti blend into a desert camouflage. But suddenly, in a low wash, we spot a tree. Not a mirage or a tall cactus’a real tree! We can’t help staring. It’s startling, and we’re curious. How can a tree survive in this arid place?
The answer is obvious. Somewhere nearby, is water. Long ago, a seedling sprouted and sent its roots down to drink from an underground stream, and it grew into a tall tree, and its sturdy trunk and branches still satisfied by its hidden source of moisture. Its leaves absorb the sweet water and stay green.
Rolling down the road in an air-conditioned car with a cooler of iced tea, we’re not tempted to dig for the stream. But if we were parched pioneers trudging across this wasteland, we would. We would be more than curious; we’d be desperate to drink from the tree’s source of life-giving water.
Maybe you serve the Lord in a dreary desert, a place of spiritual drought, encircled by shriveled souls and barren lives, by withered and wasted people who have turned away from the sweet water of truth to live in a parched wilderness of lies. Lives that could be fruitful become sterile as they try to satisfy their thirst at Satan’s salty springs. They drink and drink of what the world calls pleasure, but there’s no quenching of their cravings. Instead, their longings increase, and they don’t know why. What they are actually yearning for is the God Who alone can satisfy, Who can take a life that’s withered and transform its deadness into bloom.
And there you stand, like a flourishing green tree in the middle of a desert. Your roots have sunk through the devil’s dry sand to drink from the sweet water of God’s word. In the midst of deadness, you are alive. Even when pressed by life’s harshest winds, you are stable. You don’t shrivel in the heat of trials. You are like ‘a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes, but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit’ (Jeremiah 17:8).
Like a green tree in the desert, you attract attention. You’re different. Of course, not everyone who notices will stop to ask about your secret source of life. Most will speed by with only an apathetic glance. Others will gape at the oddity of you and wonder a moment . . . and then pass by. But some yearning and desperate ones will be drawn to you, desperate to share the water that quenches your thirst.
This morning, sink your roots deeply into His word. Let it cleanse your heart and yield the tender fruit of the Spirit. There are thirsty souls in your wilderness, and the Lord will lead them to you so you can guide them to His living water. As you do, your desert will become less bleak and more beautiful–and both you and they will be grateful to the God Who chose to plant you in a dry place.
Copyright 2010 ‘ Press On! Ministries