Are you a results-oriented person? Do you enjoy seeing the fruitfulness of your works? Would you be as motivated to set a goal knowing you could never reap the benefits or be a part of the finish?
If you’re anything like me, you most likely set goals to accomplish them. Most of us rarely ever set a goal without an idea of what the finish line looks like. Seeing the finish line is what naturally motivates the majority of us to endure. But what if all you had was a small mile marker along the way? What if you knew that everything you were doing was for the sake of someone else, somewhere down the line?
How do you make headway towards a dream knowing you may never be recognized for your efforts?
I don’t have a formula or step-by-step guide that I typically like to follow/share. However, I do have a story that impacted my life a couple years ago. It’s changed my viewpoint on making an impact by planting seeds you may never see grow.
My Time Spent in Haiti
I was invited on a mission trip about a month before the deadline was due. I had never been on one before so you would think I would’ve been somewhat hesitant. Contrary to what normal humans probably do, I remember saying yes immediately! Before knowing how I was going to raise the money, if I could take the time away from work or having any background on the destination, I just knew I was in.
The planning came soon after and everything felt squared away until about a week before we were departing. I was still short several hundred dollars and had NO idea how to raise the money any better than I was already doing. I didn’t want to back out and continued praying over it. Sure enough God provided a donation through the same friend who invited me. Voila’! Just like that, my entire circumstance changed and I was able to go.
At this point, I haven’t had much time to research anything other than weather and appropriate things women should pack for a mission trip. Needless to say, I had no idea what I was getting into but God had my full attention. He made it abundantly clear that I was meant to go on that trip no matter the cost.
Fast forward to the second or third night of the trip…
The founder of the mission we were serving in Haiti joined us to share her testimony. By this time I hadn’t experienced anything outside of the usual. We were with children living in extreme poverty and helping build a church foundation. The days were long and the people were grateful but I hadn’t become any more passionate about what I was doing there yet. I was just excited to be apart of a team serving other people.
After explaining how the mission started and her compassion behind it, she ended her speech by disclosing a common grievance visitors can feel after leaving. Most everyone she had spoken with after a trip would mention thinking they were leaving without making much of an impact. It seemed like everything they did was for a short while and wouldn’t make much of a difference. They assumed their time spent would be replaced by another group who would come in and do the same things and they would be long forgotten about.
She proceeded with a statement that I will never forget. I hope you’ll excuse the paraphrasing. I didn’t write it down so this is the best version I can share with you two years later…
We should consider ourselves blessed for being able to plant the seeds of a tree we may never see grow, flourish or bear fruit. Our time spent with these children and digging these holes may not have a finish line in sight but it serves a purpose larger than we can possibly imagine. Every hug, prayer and hole makes an impact and our time serving is time well spent.
I’ve never forgotten her point. God can use us in the smallest or biggest ways and they’re equally as important. Simply because our eyes cannot see the fruit bearing from the tree we’ve planted doesn’t mean it won’t grow. For a place like Haiti that’s continuously attacked, I often wonder if any seed planted would get around to becoming a tree, let alone one that can bear any fruit.
However, that isn’t the purpose. God is in full control of the outcome. No matter what I choose to do he ultimately brings things into existence. But what a shame for me to sit back and miss being a part of the impact he is making just because I can’t be the one to get the credit. God uses us when we make ourselves available to whatever he is already doing. Trust me, if God wants something done and he tugs on your heart to make a move and you choose not to, he will simply pick someone else.
It’s more than receiving the credit. God uses us and things in mysterious ways. I can’t even begin to try to understand his ways. I can only fully trust that he is faithful and believe that when he is asking me to do something it is just as much for my benefit as it is for theirs.
After hearing the founder speak and going through a few days of routine I was just starting to get comfortable in everything we were doing. God was working through us. We shared “God sightings” every night when we met and you could see how much was happening in all of us.
Almost a week later, some of the people in my group wanted to visit the special needs side of the orphanage we were staying at. To say I wanted no part of that is an understatement. I remember trying to muster up some type of excuse as our group walked over there. I genuinely did not want anything to do with it. However, my fear of being judged for not going was stronger than any excuse I could come up with so I just kept walking.
It felt like a 10 minute walk but was realistically 50 yards or so. I had never been around many kids and never made much contact with special needs children or adults yet. It was uncharted territory for me and I kept thinking what if I catch some type of disease or offend someone. I was honestly more afraid in that moment than I have ever been.
As we got closer, an older boy in a wheelchair held his bible up to me. I immediately reacted. I didn’t even have time to think about what I was doing. He handed me the bible so I just started reading. His face lit up with so much joy in just having me read his bible to him. They speak Haitian Creole and I was reading in English so I have no idea if he even understood me. All I know is that little boy in that very moment planted a seed in my heart that is still growing and he will probably never know.
The second I surrendered to God, even when I didn’t want to, He gave me grace and exactly what I needed. I had never been interested in having children. “Never” is a strong term but I couldn’t really envision myself as a mother. I haven’t spent much time around children or had much of a desire to and that little boy changed my outlook on all of those fears.
God showed up in a lot of ways every day for me while I was there surrendering to him in every moment. There were times I wanted to do the work that was asked of us and there were times that I honestly didn’t. Regardless of my feelings, I did what God allowed me the opportunity to do and he gave me joy in every moment
God is working on our behalf even when we cannot see it. I had no way of knowing that walking over there that day was going to be for me and not that little boy. By missing out on serving those kids I could’ve missed out on what God was also doing in me. We may not always like what God is asking us to do or see a reason for it. It’s okay to not always want to do something but to do it out of obedience. God knows what he’s up to before we do. He is in full control and we have a choice to play our part in it.
26 Then Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is like someone who plants seed in the ground. 27 Night and day, whether the person is asleep or awake, the seed still grows, but the person does not know how it grows.
Sometimes the growth is the only reward I will receive.Mark 4:26-27
We all have different stories and serve a purpose specific to God’s calling on our lives. Not every person is called to be involved in missions overseas or in their neighborhoods. This happened to be the beginning of my journey to pursuing my calling but that doesn’t mean it has to be yours.
I pray God gives you the opportunities you need to start walking with Him in your journey of planting seeds. I hope you’ll find encouragement in knowing that anything we do here on earth is rewarded in heaven.
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”2 Corinthians 9:6
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”Galatians 6:9
“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. You have plowed iniquity; you have reaped injustice; you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your own way and in the multitude of your warriors,”Hosea 10:12-13
“He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.”Ecclesiastes 11:4-6