Planted by God
God is the planter of all things, it is through him that all things grow and we are cared for. We cannot make one thing grow by our own will or strength including our faith. In Ezekiel 17:22-24, we find the prophet conveying a word from God to his people using the imagery of a twig and cedar. Often we can become too confident in our own abilities that we forget all that God is doing our lives. Paul also reminds us of this in the reading for this past Sunday from 2 Corinthians 5:1-17 that all things of this world are temporary. When we place our hope in the things of this world we can forget the blessings that God has in store for us. We, also, are not able to create faith within ourselves or others, but we can be used as tools by our Lord to shine his light into lives that are caught up in darkness. God chooses us and often the Holy Spirit's working within us is not comfortable, yet we should not be hardening our hearts. In the Gospel reading for Sunday St. Mark (4:26-34) about the parable of the mustard seed, in this imagery we find what God can do with the little that we may have to offer. You see, we don't have to be giants in faith with everything together for God to use us. It is in the little things that we do that God can do great things. Sometimes we ignore the urgings of the Holy Spirit because we don't realize what it is that God can do through us in the little we all truly have to offer. God uses broken people. The giants of faith weren't giants because they had everything together, but because they laid their faith in God's ability to use them and trusted in Him above all else. That is the power of our God. The image of Him taking a twig and placing it in a high place causing it to grow and be a place for the birds to nest above the other formerly high trees is a sign of His majesty, not ours. The tree placed high was done by God for His purposes not ours. The same is true with each and everyone of us. He has placed us where we are because of His purposes. Just because a church is trendy and large does not mean that they are doing the work of God, it just means that the church is trendy and large. The same is true when a church is smaller that they are not being faithful, it is just smaller. God can use both and, most importantly, lives can be transformed. A small church may never grow large and a large church may not change a lot of lives. You see, it is not about our work, but God's working through us. In our Lutheran Confessions, particularly the Augsburg Confession of 1530 it states within Article IV that our salvation is not based upon our works which is regularly found within the writings of Paul throughout the New Testament. We can not save ourselves, but Christ has done that work for us and completes that work within us. That is the truth of our salvation. In that, we are free to proclaim his love in spite of our own shortcomings and see what great and glorious work that he can do within us in transforming lives around us. May his peace fill your heart and mind and know that in Christ we are firmly planted for His purposes not our own.