One of the dangers of our “instant gratification” culture is that we anticipate that within a very short period of time the investments that we make, the things that we share or the seeds that we plant in the lives of others will bring about rather sudden transformation and hopefully, a long term harvest.
I was profoundly reminded that the great majority of the seeds that we plant will not return an immediate harvest and may literally slip out of our remembrance over time. However, don’t be discouraged, because in those seasons when the seed goes unnoticed, we don’t know what God might be doing.
About ten days ago at the one-year anniversary celebration of the Beaver Valley campus of North Way Christian Community, I joined with hundreds and hundreds of others who were celebrating the faithfulness of God in seeing the establishment and strengthening of this new expression of the Body of Christ in the Beaver Valley area. Pastor Chris White and his team, along with an incredible number of committed servants are making a real difference in that under-served area of Western PA.
The most unexpected moment in that service came for me shortly after we had been dismissed and were heading slowly toward the exits. A tall guy was talking with another person that I didn’t know off to my right and seemed to be waiting for a moment to introduce himself to me. Before we had the opportunity to greet one another, I recognized that his voice sounded familiar, that somehow and somewhere I had had conversations with this man before that morning.
When he warmly introduced himself to me and said “You may not remember who I am, but I wanted to share something that was started in my life through something you said 25 years ago.”
It turns out that this gentleman was the project manager of the construction of our Wexford campus facility in 1993-1994. He was a very young man to have that level of responsibility, but I remember getting along well with him and exchanging numerous thoughts about the significance of this project and how the efforts of his team would go far beyond a normal retail facility. Of course, he was part of the dedication of the building and a few other more spiritual moments than he had been accustomed to sharing in the construction world, but there was one particular moment that stood out to him. I don’t recall the exact circumstance but he did, and he recounted to me that on that particular day when a group of us had been called together to address a decision that affected the direction of the project that I had asked him to offer up a prayer for God to give us wisdom and guidance in our next steps.
He didn’t tell me at the time but he recounted in our conversation last week that he had never been asked to pray and that this was a life changing moment for him. In some way that I’ll more fully understand, that “seed” slowly took sprout and launched him on a spiritual journey over the past 25 years. We had lost touch after our project was completed and I didn’t know anything of what was happening in his life.
In a nutshell, God had been moving in his life and over the years he had eventually come to a relationship with Christ that he had not discovered in his previous experiences with “church” or “religion.” The joy and excitement of that relationship was evident as he shared where God had brought him over these years.
The pinnacle of the conversation was still to follow. He said to me in a very respectful way, “The one thing I really want to do is to be water baptized to show my love for Christ, and I wondered if you’d be willing to be the one who would baptize me?”
I looked into the eyes of this guy who is at least 6′ 4″ tall and a full 50 pounds bigger than I am and I said “I’d be happy to do it… along with Pastor Chris!”
I’ve thought of that exchange for the last 10 days and continue to be deeply moved by the reality that conversations that I’d had with him during that one year process of construction and those particular moments that stood out to him, were just little nudges along the path of his spiritual discovery. I’d not prayed for him for a long time and really had no idea what had happened.
I’m humbled by the grace of God in all this and excited about the upcoming water baptism that will seal this chapter of 25 years of having a seed grow even when I didn’t know what God was doing.
In the very same way, continue to be faithful to cast your seeds wherever God gives you the opportunity and never believe that just because you may not see fruit or transformation or change when you might so deeply want to see it, the Lord is the Lord of time and when that time has fully come, that seed will become a tree of life.