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Bloom Where You are Planted

Written by Cliff Mather

I have three cherished memories of playing high school basketball.  In a game against our archrivals, I made a desperation halfcourt shot.  In another, I drew an offensive foul in the closing moments, helping my team seal the victory.  Finally, I watched from the bench as our seniors erased an eight-point deficit in the final minute of the conference finals, earning our team a playoff spot and emptying elated fans onto the court like the end of the Hoosiers movie.

And that was the peak of my sports glory.  Not that it was really that glorious.  As it turns out, we lost the first game, I chipped a tooth in the second game, and we were immediately eliminated in the playoffs.  It was discouraging to give so much only to fall short in an opportunity that was gone almost as soon as it arrived.  It’s a bitter lesson finding out that sometimes not only are you just not good enough, you probably never will be.

It sometimes feels like that as a follower of Jesus. God’s church is essential, even ordained, for love and support and mutual encouragement in the faith. But for some, marveling at how the Holy Spirit moves in the church body, the works of others perhaps encourage Imposter Syndrome: I’m not an overseas missionary.  I’m not running a homeless shelter or adopting foster children.  I’m not preaching or singing to hundreds or thousands caught up in God’s glory.  What business do I have being here?  How can I ever be good enough for the church?  How can I ever do these same mighty things in love and appreciation for what Jesus has done for me?

It can certainly be intimidating, maybe even leaving you frozen with inaction, feeling good for nothing at all.  In response, Christian apologist Greg Koukl offers the following wisdom:  bloom where you’re planted.  “Do whatever you can, wherever you’re at. And then watch the Lord work and see what He decides to do with what you’ve done.”

There are two insights here.  Use the opportunities given to you – and maybe only you!  And rejoice that in these opportunities Christ not only uses you as an instrument to advance His kingdom but also sanctifies you for further service.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12 that we are “one body with many members,” a role for each member.  We can’t all be Christian superstars – whatever that means – because God didn’t arrange things that way.  Instead, we each have our own unique opportunities to advance the kingdom in ways that may seem small but are eternally meaningful, whether it’s a kind word and casserole for a lonely widowed neighbor, giving a car-less newcomer a ride to the grocery store, or cleaning up tables and chairs after a church event.

You don’t need to travel anywhere exotic or skillfully study or practice anything or be a superstar in any way to perform these simple, everyday acts of Christian love, placed directly in your path.  It’s easy pickings!  Indeed, Linda Peacore writes that “what matters is not the kind of work we do, but that we do our work as faithful disciples.”  Furthermore, understanding our everyday activities as service to Christ reinforces that our regular life and Christian life are not divided.  As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5, we are always “on the clock” for Christ as His ambassadors.

Now God doesn’t need our help.  If we sleep in and miss a kingdom advancement opportunity, it certainly doesn’t thwart God’s plan.  So His commands to love our neighbor, to baptize all nations, their purpose must be more than merely “getting the job done.”  Like praying for what we need when God already knows our needs, it’s the right and proper thing to do to honor and obey our perfect Heavenly Father.  But Jeremiah 17 reveals that it is good for us, too.  “[B]lessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that…never fails to bear fruit.”  

And that’s the path to glory – not sports glory, not our glory, but God’s glory.  Jesus tells us in Luke 16:10a that “[w]hoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.”  Or as Koukl writes, before you can do big things, “[f]irst you have to be someone who’s being a good steward with what you have.”  So get started with a little.  Take advantage of the simple, daily opportunities uniquely available to you, then watch for bigger opportunities for which you are made ready, Jesus sanctifying you, making you bear fruit through days and weeks and years of steady faithfulness to Him.

Unlike earthly sports, where our bodies ultimately betray us and provide only a few years of service (if any at all), we will have eternity to play for Christ’s “team,” to advance His kingdom, worship Him, and grow closer to Him.  The opportunities are literally endless, and by His blood He makes us good enough, forevermore.  On his deathbed, Martin Luther’s final words were, “We are beggars. This is true.”  And imposters, too. All praise to God for rescuing us through His Son to make us all sons and daughters of the King, imposters no more!

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