One of the things I look forward to with each new year is the idea of planting my garden. Granted I have only actually been successful at it one year, I still love the idea of taking time to plan out what I want to attempt to grow, where it will be placed, what vegetables I can plant together, and what I can’t. All of those things just breath the idea of life and abundance into my heart. It’s the idea that out of a tiny seed something breathtaking and beautiful and beneficial has the capacity to grow and thrive.
When we began on our replant journey many of these same thoughts went through my mind. Sure, there was also fear and concern about what the future held but I also saw the potential in the little church with the faithful members who just wanted to see the community they are in come to know and love Jesus the way they do. While there was exhaustion in each of the faces, where was also a sense of hope.
This morning for my daily devotional I was reading through Psalm 1 and 2. Psalm 1 paints a picutre of the indvidual who takes pleasure in delighitng in the Lord’s instruction. The author compares those who are firmly rooted in their instruction as a tree that has been planted by a flowing stream. I live in the desert so there aren’t many flowing streams, but up in the mountain surrounding where we live there are little creeks and rivers all over the place. When I was a kid I would go with my sibilings and friends to explore these areas and there were always large trees right on the banks. They were full and beautiful and it seemed that even in the coldest of winters they would never fully lose all their beautiful green color. They had a healthy source of water and nutrients they needed all year round.
This is what I hope for with The Well. This year, as we move into 2023, here are two things I am praying for our church replant as we move forward:
Bear Fruit in This Season
This year it is my prayer that as we continue to reach into the community we will strive to bear healthy fruit. This may mean we grow in numbers. This may mean we see the congregation that is already present grow deeper in their faith and walk with God. I’ll be honest when I say I don’t really know what that fruit looks like, but God does,
My heart is to see growth and life and abundance that can only be provided through a firm foundation in Christ. My desire is that our community will come to know that there is a tree planted firmly next to the river that they too can have access. Psalm 1:6 says that the Lord watched over the way of the righteous and my prayer is that as we continue on the replant journey he will be watching over us.
Avoid the Way of the Wicked
Psalm 1 isn’t all about the good that comes from those who heed God’s instructions. There is also a firm warning about those who choose to follow the way of the wicked. Walking down the path of replanting and revicatization means that at some point there was likely more walking the way of the wicked than there was being rooted in faith. This is often seen as pride swelling up as individuals refuse to embrace changes, infighting among congregation members, and fear of change, along with other things. This year, I pray we work as a community, a church family, to avoid such dangers.
It is easy after a time to fall into the temptations of embracing old habits and this isn’t always a good thing. My hope and prayer is that we have the ability to see those old habits returning and take time to prayerfully evaluate if they are a help or a hinderance to the process of replanting and growing healthy churches. I also pray that as the evaluation sheds light on habits that need to be discarded we do so without hesitation.
The devotion in my She Reads Truth Study Bible says this about Psalm 1:
As we pursue Christ, our roots deepen and strengthen. By grace thorugh faith, we begin to desire God and His Word in a deep and real way until one day we look up and notice how our branches, by no power of our own, are bearing fruit that brings glory to our God and to our Savior. May we seek to be planted in His righteousness and perfection alon, looking to His Word and resting in His presence, that we might grow in His likenessShe Reads Truth Study Bible
I love the idea of looking up and realizing how much growth and beauty has taken place through no power of our own but on through the miraculous work of God. Sure, we have to put our feet to the pavement and dig in but it is only through God that this replant process will truly be successful. And that is my prayer for 2023.