Two weeks ago, I used the illustration of the tree spoken of in Psalm 1:1-3 to illustrate why God wants to bless us. (Read the post here.) I thought of that tree a lot this week. Not just the tree, but the fact that God planted it to accomplish his purposes.
There was an oak tree in our backyard when we bought our house eleven years ago. It was a big tree that shaded most of the yard including the trampoline, the swing set, and the south-facing windows. It was also the home for a lot of squirrels and birds—critters whose sole purpose, I’m convinced, was to annoy my dog and cat. Beneath the tree, I’d planted hostas and hydrangea bushes. Lush shade grass dominated the space.
When the leaves never came back one spring, the harsh Oklahoma sun blared down through the bare branches on the trampoline, making it too hot for the kids to jump on it in the daytime. The swing set’s chains burned my children’s hands. The hostas and hydrangeas withered. The squirrels and birds found a new place to call home. The shade grass died, and our air conditioning bill went up.
I’m not sure what killed that tree. I can tell you that, by the time we cut it down, we hardly missed it.
Like that tree, you and I have been planted for a purpose. God put us each in a particular place at a particular time with very unique skills, gifts, and interests, because he has something for us to do. As long as we’re accomplishing what God set out for us, we will continue to flourish, and the people he put in our lives—our spouses, our children, our extended families, and those He calls us to serve—will also have the opportunity to flourish. But when we quit accomplishing our purpose, others may wither as the result of our inactivity. And if we quit producing fruit all together, we could wither and spiritually die ourselves.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be like the tree spoken of in Isaiah 61:3b, which reads, “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.” Whatever God has for me to do, I want to accomplish it, not for my glory, but for the benefit of the people I might reach and, more than that, to bring glory to the Lord.
Have you ever struggled to know how to serve God?
Have you ever wondered if anybody would miss you if you quit serving?
What are your struggles in serving God?
Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, released in April, and its prequel, Chasing Amanda, released in July. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.