As a counselor, it has often been my joy to watch people change and grow–and sometimes my sadness to see people remain stuck in habits of thinking and practice that lead to increasing hopelessness. In most of the situations where I get to watch those I counsel change and grow, others have been involved long before me, faithfully loving and walking alongside the person whom I now get to counsel. I am reminded of John 4:38 where Jesus said to his disciples, “I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.” I often get to reap where I haven’t sown, because of the faithfulness of others.
Some Water, Some Plant, God Gives Growth
You may have been the counselor before me, someone who faithfully planted and watered the crop that I had the joy of seeing come to harvest. Thank you. Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for your love for God that caused you to embrace the position expressed by Paul in 1 Cor. 3:6-9.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers.
Rejoicing in the Growth God Gives
I think the following e-mail from a dear friend who is working at a crisis pregnancy center expresses how beautiful it is when, because we are one, one counselor sows, another waters, and God gives the increase. At one point in the e-mail, my friend mentions change that has occurred over a period of many years. Those years represent the love and faithfulness of many who planted and watered. Please allow this e-mail to strengthen you for the days when the person you may be counseling doesn’t seem to be embracing the truth you are holding out.
…I wish I would have made it out to see you… I wanted to tell you thank you for all the time and effort you poured into my life. I also wanted to tell you about my job and where God has brought me. I cannot say my temptations and struggles are over. But I can say, “wow, look where God has brought me!”
I have seen how burdened and downcast many of our clients are because of the sin and consequences in their life. Many think they have just messed up too many times or that they have done so much bad… And I am so thankful I have the opportunity to tell them they are not too far gone for God! I can confidently tell them about Jesus dying for our sins before we were ever born… So that even all future sins can be forgiven. Amy, I can tell them that so assuredly because I have not just learned and regurgitated it, but because I have experienced that in my life! I look forward to meeting with them and find myself wishing I had more than a few minutes to dig deeper with them and to share more about who God really is.
I know I have had bumps in the road along the way and have failed some tests (warning: too much info about to be shared) but thinking back… It has been more than 10 years since I have actually had sex. That was not because of my strength. That was by God’s work in my life, through conviction, through what I was taught in church, through prayer, through scriptures, through the investment of many people in my life who love God…and through my having to change things in my life that I did not hold issue with before (for example, not spending the night at a guy’s house thinking we are just friends so it is cool). I never thought I would see that point, so I giggle, but rejoice. I rejoice for what God has done for me, but also that those burdensome days have brought me to a place where I really can understand what these ladies are saying to me, but can also full heartedly tell them that where they are is not the end of the story. There is hope in Jesus! There is change and brighter tomorrows because of the cross!
Fellow counselors, it is a joy to be a worker with you in God’s work, and I rejoice with you in God – who is beautiful beyond all comprehension and who chooses to use clay vessels to accomplish his magnificent purposes as we plant, water, and look to God to give a harvest!