What about all of my efforts throughout all the trials and tribulations? What about all of my suffering through the trials? I want credit for my personal growth. I don’t want the blame but I want the credit. Where is God in that picture? God alone makes us grow. He gives us more than we deserve and less than what we deserve. Through his grace and mercy he is the source of our growth. Only through his faithful love have I been able to see that.
Life comes in extreme conditions for all of us. There is nothing exceptional about my story as apposed to anyone else’s. Yet, when I started to understand that the only way I can grow is through God alone, I began to sprout, and moving into thriving. By his protection and provision has he held me close while shining his light on my life.
Usually I am quick to point out my accomplishments in life. Especially because of all of the trials and tribulations, I have volumes of accomplishments as I have waded my way through the yuck-and-muck. I try to take some undeserved credit for “my” accomplishments that were handed to me by the grace and mercy of God.
The older I get, the more I look back, the wider my vision becomes, the better I can see. My efforts are meaningless without Christ.
“What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 NIV
Exactly WHO has planted, WHO has watered and WHO has made things grow?
My efforts: Had God himself not spared me as a child from those set of difficulties, I would not have been alive to make the meaningless claim that it was my efforts that rose me above the difficulties. It was not my efforts, it was his efforts that spared me from that.
My provision: Had God himself not placed me in one situation after another to provide food and shelter, regardless of the circumstances, I would not have had my basic human needs met so that I could ever think it was by my provision that I could rise above the situations that life presented. With the set of troubles I was presented with, I was not always able to provide for myself, it took provision from God to cover basic needs. God has provided well for my needs, even during times it did not feel that way at the moment.
My selfishness: Had God himself not seen past my selfishness to have placed a child inside of me, as a teenager, so I could discover a ounce of selflessness to pass her along to parents who could care for her better than I ever could. Without a sense of the sacrifices of God, I would not have chosen to save the life of this unborn child and also pass her on. God gave me his perfect example of sacrifice and held me tight while I suffered that loss.
My abilities: Had God himself not shown me his importance, his sovereignty, his ways, I would not have found the abilities that he gave me to serve him. In this world I have found many abilities that have opened doors for me. They were not the right doors. It was only through finding what my Godly assignment in life was that I was able to set aside my abilities for his.
My parenthood: Had God himself not shown me that no parent can love a child into his eternity, I would still be banging my head on that useless wall. We all stand alone to answer to God, no parent can do that for any child. God himself gave me the love of a mother to give to my children, a love beyond what I have ever received in any way from any human. Yet, he showed me how to love my children, unconditionally and completely using his resources and not my own, that truly did not exist.
My arrogance: Had God himself not shown me mercy through my moments of arrogance, I would not have the courage to get out of the way and allow him to transform my arrogance into audacity to speak up for him, the willingness to take bold risks. No more harm can come to me that has not already happened, or that God alone allows, so he keeps watering me with the might that it takes to speak of his ways in the freedom he has alone given me.
My fairness and justice: Had God himself not clearly set inside of my heart that there is no place for revenge doled out by me, I would have wasted a whole lifetime on that useless endeavor. God will make just what needs to be made just, in his own way and his own time and far worse than I ever could do it. I did get stuck on the unfairness of life part and it has taken a while for God to clearly get that through my thick skull —- life is NOT fair. No matter how much “good” I have done in my lifetime, it will not necessarily be returned in my time of need by other humans. It is all for God alone to deal with. He will bless those with what he deems appropriate for HIS plan, and he will dole out what is just for HIS plan, neither of which are of my concern.
My thoughts: Had God himself not shown me the futility of my thoughts and the mystery of his, I would have killed myself long ago from all the heartache. While I get lost in God’s Word, I can see the hope that he presents in the mystery of his thoughts that I cannot hear or see. Had he not let me wallow in my own thoughts and worn myself out in them, I could never have seen the futility in them in comparison to his thoughts.
My plans: Had God himself not carried me through one abusive situation after another and then another and yet another, I would not be alive, or even sane, to tell of his goodness. There is no logic to the insanity I have lived through. I have made plan after plan to make a life out of the muck. Not one of my plans have worked. God already had his ultimate plan for my life, he just patiently waited for me to crawl onto the path and let him carry me the rest of the way, without the arrogance, pride, selfishness and provision of this world to hold me back.
My vision: Had God himself not opened my eyes, I still would be sitting in my own limited vision suffering in the yuck-and-muck instead of seeing that only through Christ can I see what I cannot see today. He himself removed the importance of seeing the whole picture today. There is no importance of it in my mind or heart as I sit here today. I want the vision of eternal purpose, not meaningless explanations to my earthly troubles.
We truly cannot even water our own garden without Jesus Christ.
“My” anything is nothing. My anything is irrelevant, worthless. In the movie, “Out of Africa,” Denys (Robert Redford) helps Karen (Meryl Streep) come to the realization of this fact. Her china, her crystal, her husband, her farm were really not hers at all.
All of the effort and good that Karen did to attempt to make a good life “failed.” All of the love and kindness and generosity she showed to others was not returned in her time of need in the ways one would expect. Yet she found deep meaningful friendship in the oddest of places that helped her grow and continued by sustaining her during her remaining years. She lost her true love, Denys, who showed her how to live more freely without the baggage of this world.
Nothing about this movie literally portrays the word of God or his ways but it has provided me with a picture of letting go of the “my” this-and-that’s. This life will not make sense to us. We might end up “failures” to the eyes of this world. Yet we can find a peace that surpasses all understanding because of our “failures” that point us right back to the one and only God that is always there for us. It is a grand adventure that I will never regret because it is not about me or my story, instead it is about God and his story. It is about how he has grown his kingdom, to glorify him, not us.
What an awesome place to be, right where God wants me, in his garden with his nourishment. There has not been one ounce of me that got me here. There has not been another human who got me here. There is nothing of any real importance to where I am. It is not about me, it is about God. Besides encouraging others with bits and pieces of my story, my life is quite insignificant.
As God has appointed others to plant and water his seeds inside of me, may I use bits and pieces of my story to plant and water God’s seeds inside of others. May I use the purposeful bits and pieces of my story for his glory and not my own. May others see hope in Christ, not in my words. My story and words are dust of this earth, God’s ways are everything. Only through God can we truly grow.
May all of you be nourished by the Word of God,
Maribeth Baxter, MBNC (Certified Mind-Body Nourishment Coach)
Grow deeper in God’s Word: Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:5