June 20, 2011

This Is It!

I recently received an email from my good friend Melanie that filled me up at a time when I truly needed it. I tucked it away in my “keeper” file, but I’m pulling it out for you today. Melanie’s words relating our mutual friend’s farm correspond with my last post about trusting God to grow fruit from our work in church planting. Perhaps her letter—which she wrote after I expressed my discouragement to her— will encourage you where you are in your ministry as a wife, mom, and church-planting helpmate. I hope you'll read it as if it were written to you from someone in your church:

I am glad you write, I am glad I know you, I am thankful for the people that are at our church.  I am glad that you are so willing to carry burdens with people and lift them up, even when it means you have to get messy in the process.  I am sorry that it must be the case that the more the church grows the more the burdens grow too, but there is so much positive growth happening too. 

We talked about the Lykosh farm tonight and I thought there were some funny similarities for you two.  They are growing food...and the closer they get to their goal, the more there is that can go wrong.  That many more crops that can fail, that many more trees that can succumb to disease or drought, that many more chickens that can overheat and die in the summer or get carelessly stepped on in the spring.  In a weird way, every step they take toward their goal is a step toward failure because they are that much more invested in the goal - more of their assets, their identity, their livelihood become entangled in their calling.  So why do they keep investing more and more without proof that everything is going to work out?  Apparently, it is primarily because they are faithful people doing the wild thing God has called them to do.  So as they grow in that faithfulness to the calling, the things that can go wrong are so much greater, but how exciting to think about what it will be like when it all comes together! 

I think your awareness of the burdens and hurts in our community just reveals how closely you are tending the harvest, and reveals your heart for your calling.  I have to imagine that you and Kyle are somewhat underprepared...but this is it!  It's here!  You're really doing it, and you have been prayed over, God has made the way for you, and so now you work your fields until the work is done because what else could you possibly do after such a great investment?  And I am sure that some years will yield little fruit and some years will be epic in their yield because that is just the way things seem to work in farming and ministry.  But through it all, it is still your calling and still how God intends to bless you.

I can imagine that it would be difficult to see the big picture with church - what you are doing looks so impossibly big and crazy to me.  Like when I look at people that can run 30 miles and I'm like, "Were you made like that?!"  But, that is the funny thing - apparently you were made like "that" - like how you are.  And your ability to focus on the right things, simplify, pray with wisdom for people, protect and guide your family - that all seems so "crazy" to me, just like picking up strangers seems so "crazy" to someone else, or picking up and moving across the country to start a farm is "crazy" for someone else.  And you really are going to rely on our community to fund your livelihood, and it really is going to work out.  You really are going to grow into all the sheperding and discipling and hospitalitizing that God may have for you, and people really are going to grow closer to God and experience the joy of a life that finally feels worth living as a result...maybe after going through some considerable hurts.  But just like tomato worms and end blossom rot are practically a result of growing tomatoes, tending people comes with a few signature pests too.  And you are going to become an expert worm squisher and slug getter and when people compliment you about how safe and beautiful your church congregation is, they'll have no idea what you have been doing to keep it that way. 

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:9-10