He wore a green flannel shirt and distinguished grey temples. Sticking out his hand, he said, “You’re the reason my family and I go to this church.”
Usually I don’t receive this kind of greeting when I show up to deliver a sermon or monologue. All I could do is stammer, “Really?”
“Yep. See that young lady over there?” I followed his pointing finger to a young woman in the fellowship hall with a cascade of curly blonde hair. “That’s my daughter. Years ago, she attended one of your magic programs at this church and got so excited she wanted to come back the next night. We came along with her and the rest is history. We’ve been here for ten years now.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. I don’t hear this kind of feedback very often. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t flattered or that this news didn’t stroke my ego a little bit. (Yes, it’s true: preachers sometimes have to check the size of their heads). I came down a few pegs when I introduced myself to the man’s daughter and she said, “Yeah, my parents have told me the story … but I’m sorry, I don’t remember you or your program.”
On the way home that night, I thought of the verse Paul wrote to the Corinthian church: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (I Cor 3:6). A tireless apostle and gifted preacher did their part — and God did His. Bible commentator David Guzik writes, “Some people are frustrated because they want to water when God has called them to plant, or they want to plant when God has called them to water. Others are frustrated because they want to make the increase happen, when only God can do that. Real fruitfulness in ministry happens when we are peacefully content with what God has called us to do.”
I am sure there were times when Paul and Apollos wondered if their preaching was getting through or their ministry was worth the effort. Do you wonder the same thing when you witness or serve? Admittedly, the seed we cast sometimes falls on hard, rocky ground. But Jesus told us to scatter, anyway (Matt 13:3-9). When farmers sow, they know they do not have the power to make a kernel sprout, reach toward the sun and produce a harvest — but they do it, anyway.
As we approach Thanksgiving, we are reminded to count our blessings. I’d like to encourage you to throw out your blessings so lavishly you won’t be able to count them. Don’t think it will make a difference? Do it, anyway. Write that encouraging email. Utter that prayer. Get your hands dirty in a service project. Open your pocketbook for that noble cause. Who knows what God will do with your generosity? Why, someone God blesses through you might even shake your hand some day.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”