In the quietness of my final years I plan to watch a tree grow—a birch tree I planted as a tiny sapling over 30 years ago. It stands now in mature splendor, just outside our picture window—beautiful in every season of the year.
So it is with our spiritual endeavors: We may have planted, watered, and fussed over our “saplings” (those we’ve mentored) for a time, but only God can make a “tree.”
Occasionally I hear from those I ministered to years ago, and discover to my delight that they have grown to maturity and have been greatly used of God—with no help from me. It’s a gentle reminder that I plant and water for a while, and help others “grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ” (Eph. 4:15). But only God “gives the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6-7).
German theologian Helmut Thielicke writes, “The man who doesn’t know how to let go, who is a stranger to quiet, confident joy in Him who carries out His purposes without us (or also through us or in spite of us), in Him who makes the trees grow . . . that man will become nothing but a miserable creature in his old age.”
So, at my age, I may yet tend a sapling or two, but mostly I will let go and watch them grow.
A Prayer: Lord, I want to be used by You in others’ lives. Teach me from Your Word so that I can help others follow You. And enable me to let go and trust You to work in them. Amen.
Those who follow Christ can help others follow Him too.