I have a teeny box-garden outside my kitchen in which I grow one pea plant, three strawberry plants, eight bean plants, and six or so carrots. It’s unimpressive, but it’s what I can manage in this life-season. My mom-in-law used to notice when I’d get up the energy to grow a huge garden, because then, she knew, my capacity to do some big project was about to sprout. (And she was embarrassingly right! Usually about the time I’d start planting big, backyard gardens, my husband, Frank, and I would decide we were ready to have another child!)
Gardens are more than just their produce; they are an expression of faith. And this autumn, I want to encourage you in how God makes you fruitful in the Rally toward loving 1 million women toward Jesus.
One meaning of “rally” fits this season particularly well, and that is this: to reunite. Reunions describe these days of harvesting gardens, cooking up great food, gathering around tables, and giving thanks for God’s bounty and Jesus’ birth.
So, what will reunite you and your ministry buddies this fall? What can rally your Planning Team, your regional leadership, your hub, your prayer group, your Bible study, or your neighbor with whom you are leading a Where Love Lives group?
In my seminary studies on what leads to growth toward Jesus, I stumbled across data on how different spiritual disciplines relate to unity. I was super awed when I learned that one discipline that related to people feeling unified was actually a very quiet, non-talking one: silent prayer. Stunner!
Silent prayer also relates to spiritual revival – the kind of spiritual harvest we yearn for. One of the elements present before the Great Awakening was intimacy. Intimacy with God and with each other. The practice of silent prayer leads to this intimacy.
The Stonecroft Leadership Team recently tried out this idea: Create one day that month when each of us took a “pray and plan day” and listened for God to guide.
Savor the Silence: Take a day or a couple of hours over a few days to “pray and plan” silently. Invite your co-leaders to do this also. The Stonecroft Leadership Team used John 21 during our first go-round. Many of you are setting goals for how you long to love women toward Jesus, perhaps through your Fall Fundraiser, a special outreach experience, hosting a Where Love Lives group, or starting to intentionally befriend not-yet-Jesus-followers. What better way than to hear God’s good goals for you, uniquely?
Delight in the Differences: My harvest may be small, but I celebrate every yield of garden-goodness. When Frank and I pluck a red, ripe berry before the birds do, we tell each other about our victory! Similarly, I can rejoice in planting my part of God’s garden and cheer you on as you plant yours. Rejoicing together
is encouraging and honoring. It invites us to celebrate, not compare; to delight, and not diminish.
Faith for the Fruit: Gardens are a symbol of faith, and how we root down, unseen and silent, individually before God, nourishes us to bear fruit that will last. I invite you to reunite in intimacy with God and each other to advance the Gospel. To pray and plan in silence, waiting on God, to delight in each other’s differences, and to plant in faith knowing God is the One who creates the fruit.
Dr. Naomi Cramer Overton
President and CEO