Give it time to Grow
Benjamin Franklin failed. That was the common conclusion at the end of the Albany Congress in 1754. The Albany Congress was an early attempt to get the colonies to unite. The British government had directed the colonies to come together in order to support the king’s efforts during the French and Indian War. Benjamin Franklin was tasked with coming up with a plan to guide the colony's response. Franklin’s Plan of Union set forth a structure whereby the colonies could operate in a more united fashion. At the time, the colonies saw themselves as independent from each other and were happy with the status quo. The plan may have failed to accomplish what Franklin hoped for in 1754. But for the first time colonial leaders seriously considered the possibility of united action. The seeds of future cooperation in 1775 were planted in 1754. Today many of us are quick to label something as a failure if it does not meet our immediate needs or satisfy a current desire. But God teaches us to take a longer view of success. God does His best work in the messes of our lives but it often takes time for us to see the fruit of God’s work in and through us. God often operates through planting a seed in one season that will bear fruit in another. If we do not embrace this approach, it is very likely we will declare a failure something God is turning into a success. Paul understood this better than most. He labored in very difficult circumstances, and sometimes there was very little apparent success. In I Thessalonians 2:1 Paul writes this, “You know brothers that our visit to you was not a failure.” You only write words like that when there is a high likelihood that someone is about to declare as a failure what God is using to bring about a blessing. The Bible is filled with other passages where God talks to us about the usefulness of things like sacrifice, suffering and perseverance. When you are actually experiencing these things, the experience can look and feel like failure. But God’s presence in our lives assures us that He is at work planting seeds and setting into motion that which will ultimately bring glory to His name and connect us with the great victory He is bringing about. Joy, peace, tenacity and resolve are found by those who refrain from labeling as a failure what God is still shaping. This is how we raise the bar on our discipleship.