by Nate Keeler
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree firmly planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”
I once heard Tim Keller tell the story about what trees have done to the sidewalks of New York City. The trees that were first planted were weak and the thought of what they were capable of in the distant future seemed insignificant. But over the years, as the roots thickened and deepened the trees were so strong that they could easily break through the concrete sidewalks.
This reminds me of Psalm 1:1-3. The mature disciple that is represented by the Psalmist as a “tree firmly planted” did not get that way overnight did he? Of course not! Disciples start out their walk as a seemingly weak and insignificant sapling. As the Psalmist indicates, maturity happens through a process of removing the sinful influences from our lives and developing a love for God through spiritual disciplines. Over time disciples grow strong, dependable and influential as they multiply disciples as the fruit of their lives.
There are many takeaways from this passage but let me focus on just one: the process of making and becoming a mature disciple is a grind that we must embrace for the long-term. That doesn’t mean all of us will take decades to become mature, to the contrary some disciples are fast growers. But regardless of speed, we must appreciate the truth that discipleship is a grind of time and commitment. If it took the God-man, Jesus, 3 years of dedicated investment to make disciples that were ready to reproduce (and one of them didn’t work out so well) then maybe we should value the process as much as the product!
With the advent of technology we are so used to moving at light speed in so many areas of our lives- information, commuting, work assignments, politics, etc. The process of becoming and making disciples is counter-cultural because it is doggedly determined to require significant time and commitment.
Are you growing weary and frustrated in your own maturity or in making a mature disciple of someone else? I want to encourage you to persevere through prayer and patience. Fruitful trees aren’t made over night and neither are reproductive disciples. Embrace the grind!