Only God Makes Things Grow

The pleasing aroma as I wake up. The warm sensation as I sip it down. The jolt of energy needed on early mornings. The lingering it allows over an amazing evening meal. There are so many reasons to love coffee.

My memories of coffee begin at my Gram’s kitchen table, around the age of 6, when she would pour some into a china cup, adding lots of whole milk. It was an after-dinner drink served with cookies or pie, while her friends came over to visit. I felt so grown up getting to watch them play rummy and have conversations with Cornelia, Gram’s neighbor who was a Holocaust survivor, Flo, who would save up her money so they could go to Vegas, and alluring Ann Michael, who possibly was ahead of her time with tattooed eyeliner.

By sixteen, I was drinking coffee each morning before school, without the milk to skip the calories. I enjoyed its rich taste and scent. It was later that I learned that coffee takes much of its flavor and character from the soil, sunlight, and air, so the beans’ origin is critical to quality. Each valley and mountain produce coffee distinct from all others. Doesn’t that ring true about people too? Good soil typically produces good fruit, right? Who we become as adults is a result of the family and community who support and raise us. Each day, someone needs to tend the seeds, feed and water them, until they are ready to be harvested by hand.

“I (Apostle Paul) planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-11.

During the years of raising young children was when my faith went from a private, personal relationship with Jesus, to that of wearing my faith on my evangelist sleeve. I was broadcasting seeds of my learning to all who would hear – at my corporate job, on runs, and in preschool pick-up line. My growing love of coffee and the popularity of coffee shops, provided an easy way to gather, talk about and learn more about Jesus. From this community, here are some things we did in our family:

  • Talk about God’s promises and Biblical stories. Even if they don’t remember where they heard it, these words will be planted inside them, and in the future, they will know these are God’s words.
  • Prayers of love and protection over them at night. Now that they tuck themselves into bed, sometimes hours after me, I hope the discipline of our years of nightly prayers are still recited as they drift off.
  • Praying gratitude to God for the gorgeous sunrises He gives us on our drives to school. Now that they are driving without me, my hope is they will prompt each other to start the day in praise to the Creator.
  • Many of my friends have commented that they wish they had had the opportunity to know Jesus in their teens. So, we asked for a middle school ministry to be available at our public school. It has become a funnel to Young life in high school and college. Now my prayer is that every kid can attend and meet Jesus.

In some cases, God just likes to have fun as He reminds us of what He can do. In one of my last phone conversations before my cousin Denny passed, he asked me how many cups of coffee I drink in a day. I thought he was pulling my leg. I even responded with “is this a trick question?” I guess it shouldn’t surprise me since we have the same Belgium heritage. He shared that after all the chemo drugs and dialysis, he was finally able to enjoy coffee again. It was as memorable a moment as being in person together. I’ve saved the picture of us toasting our coffee cups over text, as a reminder of the obedience Denny had in planting seeds 20-30 years ago into a Pittsburgh high school football player, who would come to Christ and become the future pastor of a Cincinnati mega-church my family would attend. Denny was Paul, and I am sure there were many Apollos watering along the way, but it’s God who made it all occur.

Let me end with, even my worst-tasting coffee, gritty, smoky, and lukewarm, cooked over fire at Woman Camp (a local church retreat) was palatable because of the Christian fellowship that surrounded it. It is these friendships that we will now watch, lovingly and expectantly, as they accept opportunities to re-ignite their faith as they begin to relocate, either retiring or are transferred:

  • What does God have in store for them?
  • Will they seek a community of believers there?
  • What did we plant here that they will bring with them?
  • Who will be their Apollos, awaiting their arrival with water (or baked goods) to continue their development?
  • Who will they be Paul to, because someone is waiting to hear their witness!

Just like with my children, I ask “Do they know God and His voice? Have they experienced the Holy Spirit?” and God reassures me that He’s “Got This!”  He has asked each of us to bring His Light to many, now it’s time for them to shine. Maybe they will even plant a church or start a revival!

Mark my words, the enemy is not happy about our harvest. He plants seeds of doubt to try to stop us. He whispers lies and doubts. He uses tactics as weeds to distract us. As he chisels at us, our roots begin to rot. But when we refuse to listen, our foundation grows stronger and we are victorious.

I am confident that coffee will remain a tradition in my lineage. I look forward to the days with my future grandchildren, sipping their warmed milk with a splash of coffee, and a delicious sugary treat. I will reminisce and recount the harvest God created, through Jesus’ prompting me and their granddad to be a part of, some that we obediently followed and some that we messed up and He redeemed. I will share my memories and tales, filling their young minds with the Truth of all that their Lord has already done for their family tree:

  • I will teach them the first Bible verse their mommy or daddy learned (Isaiah 41:10-10).
  • How God took me halfway around the world to start a Bible study for the mommies in our neighborhood.
  • How the Holy Spirit inspired their granddad to change his company’s focus and hire strong believers and fair chance employees.
  • How they are never alone – God is always with them (Matthew 28:20).
  • And that they already have a family cheering section in Heaven, led by great-great cousin Denny (Hebrews 12).

Please pray with me – Lord, when time feels short to me, when I feel like I haven’t shared enough of You with my children and my friends, please remind me that You are the One who makes our faith grow. Comfort me that You have these loved ones in Your hands. Remind me that Your love is greater than I can imagine, Your plan is superior to anything I could suggest, and You are pleased with the planting and watering we are doing. In Your son’s name, Amen.

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