“There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, And there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want.” – Proverbs 11:24
Growing a Legacy of Life. That’s our theme this year at Lifeline as we celebrate our twentieth anniversary. The concept of growth is all around us: in the flowers blooming this spring, in the transition from size 0 to size 1 diapers, and in our spiritual development as we follow Christ. But what does growth tangibly look like? How does growth happen, and how does it feel?
Having spent most of my life in the suburbs of West County St. Louis, I don’t know a ton about farming. Though it may disappoint whichever one of my ancestors earned the last name “Farmer,” I’m pretty far-removed from the agricultural life. However, from the stories of my mother who grew up on a farm, her brother and his wife who to this day make a living as farmers, and my coworker Rachel who carries on a farmer’s legacy along with her husband, I’ve gleaned an understanding that working on the land is far from easy. The business of growth requires sacrifice, discipline, and a community of helpers to make it all function.
Sound familiar at all? This same physical toil essential to farming bears much similarity to the labor of spiritual growth.
Sacrifice. Growth costs us something. Proverbs 11:24 illustrates that when a sower scatters seeds, those seeds lead to more and more crops; yet when those seeds are greedily withheld from the land, famine takes over. Likewise, ever when we let go and scatter the gifts God has given us (our skills, time, finances), growth abounds; yet when we cling tightly to those seeds, unwilling to share them with His people, we starve ourselves and others of spiritual growth. Over the years, the supporters, staff, and board members of Lifeline have had to give up a part of themselves in order to promote abundant life for moms, dads, and children. Whether that looks donating a little more than what we typically feel comfortable with, giving up an extra hour a week to volunteer at the clinic, or even sacrificing another job opportunity to join the Lifeline staff, God often leads us to let go so that others can harvest.
Discipline. Making one sacrifice every five years or so won’t lead to much growth. God calls us to be diligent. 1 Chronicles 16:11 challenges us to “seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually!” Our journey of growth as His body is continuous. Therefore, let us wake up every morning, open our eyes, and immediately ask for His strength. What if we at Lifeline used the resources God graciously gave us to buy an ultrasound machine, build a clinic, then show up to work for a week and call it good? Is one PLANS lesson and a pack of diapers enough for all the new moms and dads seeking our help? Of course not. Just like a farmer can’t scatter some seed then retire, neither can we as followers of Christ do anything but seek and serve Him everyday.
Community. We’ve heard it said that “two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10). God doesn’t ask us to farm alone. Just as farmer cannot till, sow, harvest, and go to market all by herself very well, anyone who attempts to pursue Christ alone won’t last long. A desire for growth should immediately lead to seeking help from our brothers and sisters. Lifeline hasn’t endured through the past twenty years in a vacuum; this ministry is the result of an ever-increasing network of individuals giving, praying, and acting out in faith that Jesus Christ would reign victorious over the lives of the families we serve.
As much as my inner selfish toddlerhood wants to clench its fists around the blessings God continuously provides, His Spirit and Word reminds me to be a farmer — not just in name, but in lifestyle. Give away the seeds. Let go. Keep digging the dirt. These are the gentle prodding He offers, the discipline that keeps me walking next to Him. They’re the same commands He gives to Lifeline: give away the resources I’ve given you, let go of your fear of the world and its attacks against life, keep digging the dirt and creating a welcoming place that loves My children. This is the kind of growth He calls us to. Let’s not let twenty years be our stopping point.
By Kathryn Farmer