Yesterday I had to clean out some room in the storage shed in the side yard. I was working like a busy bee, going through stuff, culling out this and that, rearranging and throwing out trash. Once, when I stepped out the door to take something out, I noticed a limb on my pear tree that was hanging right over the opened door. I was actually a little amazed when I drew it down for a closer look. All over the limb were little buds in their earliest stages all twisted up and waiting to bud out. That’s not so unique to find, but it is the middle of February for Pete’s sake. I can see that happening in March some time, but it seemed way too early to me.
It was a moment or two before I could return to my task because the little buds had me spellbound. What on earth were they doing peeping their little heads out so early? You can’t talk to a tree and help it understand that there may well be ice or frost coming on before Spring really hits. I guess you could say it, but I don’t think the tree would understand. So, I pulled down some limbs around other parts of the tree and inspected them with the same amazement. There were buds everywhere… still tightly closed, but they were there none the less.
Then it hit me. That’s not my tree. It’s God’s tree. It is His creation. He is in control of those buds, not me. It is for Him to decide if it is early or late for the process to start. It is under His control to protect the tree or nourish it with warm sunshine and make it bud. It is for Him to worry about as far as whether it will bear fruit or rest for a season. I do not know the inner workings of a tree. That information belongs to its Creator. If it needs to rest, He will know that, not me.
Then it hit me a little harder. If that is the way God grows a tree, could it not be the way He grows a church? The church belongs to Christ, not us. It is not ours to direct or control. It is His. He is the head, not us. He is the Creator. He is the director. The church is His body, not ours. He knows the seasons. He knows when the nutrients are right for growth or when it is undernourished and needs to rest. It is He who will cause it to bear fruit, not us. We are only instruments in His hands to cultivate it. Even then, we are to do that as He leads us or directs us, not as we will.
When we pull down a limb and find an early budding, something a little out of season, it is our responsibility to first realize that He is in control of the seasons and that His body will flourish or rest at His bidding, not ours. If we look at the limbs and see no budding, we must continue to do our work and wait on Him to bring new life. This does not give any of us permission to do nothing. It does, however, give us peace in knowing that He is in control of what happens with the body, not us. He is qualified as the creator. We are not.
Go out in your yard and take a look around. Pull down a limb or two and watch God work. Inspect it. Study it. Question it if you must. But, understand beyond all measure that there is absolutely nothing you and I can do to make something grow. We can enhance the environment all we want to, but God still gives the growth. Hey, and when you get to church next time. Shake a limb or two and in complete reliance on the Creator and patience, watch God do His work.