I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. - 1Corinthians 3:6
For those who know what a hard week my family and I have had, I write to convey how this verse has been a comfort to me this morning. Paul is talking about his ministry - his life's work -and reminding people that everything he does is just a reflection of God's work.
Paul spent countless days and nights traveling all over the ancient Mediterranean region, preaching, teaching, putting up with all kinds of push-back, making friends wherever he went - and some enemies too. His friend, Apollos, tended one of the early churches Paul founded there in Corinth as a pastor, helping those in need, preaching, teaching, no doubt also putting up with all kinds of push-back, and shepherding a diverse group of people into a flock of brothers and sisters in Christ.
Each of us is given our work to do in life, our various callings. We plant, we water. We dig and we weed. We harvest and put food by. Chopping wood and carrying water, as the Buddhists say. We do this as doctors or teachers or laborers or parents; students or business people or beggars or priests. We go about our days, and each day, day after day, we create a life.
Whatever it is we choose to spend that life on, and however long or short that life may be, God works through it - and through all of us - through every single thing we do - to bring fresh new growth into this world. God can make a sprout thrive in nothing more than a sidewalk crack, or can coax a spring bulb to break through thick asphalt and bloom. God can pull an entire school community together into a deeper level of mutual care and kindness through the caring love and hospitality offered to others by just one student, who herself was far hungrier for profound acceptance and welcome than anyone could have known.
God can take a very simple task, like making a pot of soup for someone who is grieving, and bring forth healing and new life through it. Or God can take a few simple words spoken or written in a card or post, and nurture new wholeness and more meaningful connections. Whether we spend our moments praying or writing or cooking or speaking, digging or planting or watering or weeding - or just sitting still and being present - it all can be a vehicle for God's love and healing to enter the world. We can be the way God grows. We can be the way light overcomes the darkness.
In a place of vulnerability like the one I find myself in these days, I find no reason to do anything at all but those things that convey God's love. Prayer time. Making tea for Bo. Listening to Steve and holding his hand. Sitting here pondering the Sunday readings. They are just simple tasks, but they are all ways to plant. To water. To welcome God's new life and growth into the world. I trust I can be a gardener of God's love if I offer whatever I do up to God.
And so I do. I offer myself, my family, my church, my work, my time, my body and all my loved ones, whether here or in some other place, so that God will bless and use them all for good growth in a world that seems so bent on destruction.