Unless you’re a tree enthusiast, you probably don’t think about planting, growing, or celebrating trees very often.
I know I don’t.
I used to think that only people who knew about trees (like John Muir) would plant them. I recently learned that some 7,000 trees are planted… every minute. That’s 5 million trees, everyday - 158 million trees, each month.
That’s a lot of trees.
The same is true about faith.
I think sometimes we think that only people know a lot about God, Jesus, and faith can “plant” it in somebody else. If that’s the case, then planting would be slow-going. But, I wonder what would happen if everyone who had an ounce of love for Jesus or a nugget of knowledge about faith would pass it onto someone in another generation - older or younger.
In other words, what would happen if we planted, nurtured, and celebrated a Tree of Faith, everyday?
Afterall, Mark 4:32 says a tiny mustard seed, “grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”
So, confession - every tree I’ve planted by myself has either died or uprooted in a midwest windstorm. But, I have learned a thing or two about planting tiny seeds of Jesus Trees.
Here are four things I have learned along the way (and how you can join me in planting a Jesus Tree).
Seeds take a long time to germinate. Whether they’re your spring garden seeds or seeds of Jesus’ encouragement sown into the heart of a loved one - seeds take time to begin to sprout. Sometimes, they take root and it’s weeks (sometimes years) to see anything pop out of the ground. And, that’s OK. Be patient.
I often think about how patient Jesus must be with me.
Jesus Trees take time to grow - at least trees that are deeply rooted in Him.
If you're not gentle with seedlings, they will die. When you begin learning how to use a garden tool, you must use it gently. Small movements. You learn how it works so that you don’t hurt yourself or the plants you’re tending to. The same is true with God’s Word. I think sometimes we handle God’s truth like a sword. And while it’s true that God’s Word is like a sword, a tool (or weapon) that is not properly used hurts everybody in its path.
I recently had some very “real” conversations with a group of Christians about some very “real life” things. They know the truth. I learned that in their past, they’ve been beaten down by the truth. They didn’t need another sword to cut them down. They needed the watering can of grace to know that even in their searching for their “true” identity (in Christ!), they are unconditionally loved and completely accepted in the love of Jesus Christ. Not even the confusion and brokenness in that part of their lives can keep them from the reckless love of God. I needed to be gentle… and I’m guessing you might need to be gentle (and yet bold!) with God’s Word, too.
It’s not a matter of life or death.
The poles of whether a tree lives or dies are pretty draconian. There is a lot of life that happens between the time a seed is planted and when a mature tree is cut down, harvested, or dies.
I think sometimes when we are growing Jesus Trees, we get tricked into believing everything is an urgent matter. A situation where repentance needs to happen right away.
We need to remember that growth takes time. Resolution and reconciliation does not always happen after the first, second, or even fifth conversations. And afterall, resolution and reconciliation does not determine life or death - the grace of Jesus has already determined that! We simply get to be part of giving nutrients to the Jesus Tree. Nutrients like the grace, love, forgiveness, and loving exhortation/encouragement to live a life like Jesus that has first been afforded to us through God’s Holy Spirit that is alive in us.
Take the pressure off.
It’s easy to put our sense of success and failure into what we do. I mean, if my garden doesn’t produce the yields that I expect, I beat myself up over it.
The same is true with Jesus Trees.
Some of us beat ourselves up over looking at our kids, grandkids, parents, and friends and wonder if they’re going to ever get to where we expect them to be in their relationship with Jesus.
I’m reminded of Genesis 2:5: The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Take the pressure off. God’s got this. Your success or failure of planting, nurturing, and growing Jesus Trees is not all on you. It’s never been on you. You’re simply asked to tend to it.
So, what are we waiting for?
Let’s go plant, nurture, and thank God for the Jesus Trees around us - older and younger ones!
And most of all, I thank God for you being a Jesus Tree… planted exactly where God wants you to be… to share your fruit in God’s time… so that you can plant, nurture, and celebrate more Jesus Trees in the days and years to come.
The OSLC ministry team is a growing collection of women and men who live as a family on mission, leading the OSLC family in connecting an unchanging God with a changing world by loving God, loving people, and living like Jesus.