from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." ~ Isaiah 11:1
Lately I've run into some brick walls in my personal ministry here in Rwanda. Things I would like to do, and feel moved to start, haven't worked out, and some things I've done, although they turned out well, have turned out to be very, very complicated. Not that I wouldn't choose to do it again if I'd known how complicated life would become - but I might have taken a deeper breath first, and prepared myself for the walk through the mire to get from point A to point B.
Tough times often spur introspection, and rightly so.
"What could I have done differently?"
"Was this really necessary or beneficial?"
"What would I do next time?"
"Am I making a difference or helping anyone at all?"
And of course, the well worn favorite of ex-pats everywhere,
"What in the world am I even doing here?"
With these questions running around in my brain, bouncing up against one another, I opened to Isaiah 11, having no idea how gently and dearly the words written there would encourage and affirm me.
"A shoot will come up"........."from the stump of Jesse." (from the stump of a dead old tree)
Something new and good would spring up from something old and dead. The "shoot" here refers to Jesus, who would one day be born through the family line of David. Jesse was David's dad, and not nearly such an amazing guy as David was. Yet, from the dead old stump of Jesse, Jesus was born - and He turned the world upside down! He brought LIGHT out of darkness, HOPE out of despair, and TRUTH into a world of lies.
Ripples of Jesus's ministry are still moving outward to this day, over 2,000 years after His death and resurrection.
But that was Jesus, the Divine Son of God. Of course He turned the world upside down. Of course his presence and work accomplished so much.
As I read this passage, I was encouraged. Any work that God leads anyone to do, anything done through the power of Jesus' Name, even though done by the equivalent of an old tree stump - is sure to somehow, some way produce a new shoot of life, a new promise of redemption and of miracles and of second chances and of God's love to his people.
Only God knows what fruit will grow from what we often feel are our paltry offerings to God.
When you think about it, compared to what God has done for us - anything anyone ever does for God is a "small thing". It's all small stuff. But we can choose to trust that God will take our very small things, things only as good as what you could expect to come from an old tree stump, and bring out from them beautiful shoots which will grow into solid, strong trees, which will then produce fruit and will become real blessings to many.
That's real encouragement. The truth is, what each of us do, no matter how mundane or incredibly small it may seem sometimes, it all matters. It ALL matters.
So, if God moves in your heart to bake some cookies for a neighbor, to help a friend update her resume while she looks for a new job, to seek to bring justice to someone who has been mistreated and used or neglected, or to just do the dishes when it's not your turn, do not think this is too small a thing for God. Nothing is too small for Him. And He can take all our work, no matter how closely it resembles an old tree stump's leftovers, recover it and make it into a tall, strong tree for His Glory.
Don't give up!
|One of Tim's patients from last year came to visit and brought her new baby! This is child||number 7 for her!|
|Our dear friend and "adopted son", Pacifique -on his way to drop off his application for medical school.|
|Saying good-bye to our little sweetheart, Kito, the day he was taking the ferry boat back to Idjwi Island with his Uncle.|
|Jeanne and Kito, saying good-bye.|
|Kito's Uncle, who came to take him home. What a sweet man.|
|Gordance, a friend who attends our nearby University.|
|A partially paralyzed grandmother who couldn't see to read anymore. Pacifique brought her some reading glasses.|
|My friend at the market who sells ladies and children's clothing. (Above and below)|
|Dear friends who are seamstresses. (above and below)|