About 15 years ago I gave my wife, Elsa, a pink dogwood tree for Mother’s Day. The kids and I planted the tiny tree in the front yard and waited impatiently for gorgeous flowers to bloom.
One year passed, then two, then three. Still no flowers. We wondered if the spindly little dogwood would ever grow and blossom. A few times I was tempted to cut it down.
But one spring we saw some blossoms, and more in the springs after that. As time passed, the trunk thickened, branches expanded, and an ever-widening array of pink petals spread among the leaves. Truly our pink dogwood was coming into its own.
Our experience with the dogwood tree reminds me of our attitude toward ministry sometimes. We invest our prayers and efforts in helping a friend or family member grow in their faith.
But if we aren’t seeing results, we are tempted to give up and move on to someone or something else.
If that is you right now, just keep on “watering the tree” and wait for God to work.
For Instance, I’m involved in a ministry of equipping Christian writers and publishers around the world. We come alongside a man or woman with gifting for Christian writing or publishing. We nourish that talent through training, encouragement and prayer. Sometimes we wonder if, or when, all that hard work will bear fruit in a finished book or established publishing ministry.
Then that writer’s book does get published, that publisher does makes real progress toward growth, that trainee does becomes a trainer of other writers and publishers. And we remember that it takes time for a growing Christian communicator to take root and blossom.
Last summer our little dogwood tree had one more surprise for us. There on a branch just three or four feet off the ground rested a bird’s nest. Inside sat a mama robin alongside her baby, beak open and expectant for food. We could hardly believe it.
Seeing the bird family, I was even more relieved that we hadn’t given up and removed the tree from our front yard. Not only was the dogwood providing beauty, it was giving shelter to new life, as it were.
It was a fitting conclusion to this parable of the dogwood tree….coming full circle to illustrate how God’s Word is working even when we can’t see it at first.
“What shall we say the kingdom of God is like…..? It is like a mustard seed…when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade” (Mark 4:30-31).