So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.

1 Corinthians 3:7-8 (NIV, 1984)

There are many who believe that Adult & Teen Challenge is the place where young men and women come to meet Jesus Christ and get rid of their problems that threaten to destroy their families and what remains of their lives. Those of us who serve there would love to be worthy of such a reputation. And, while it is true that many have found their freedom from addiction through the ATCM process of introducing them to a living, breathing relationship with the Lord, in actuality, we are merely gardeners, to use Paul’s analogy.

In a perfect world, the men and women who come seeking hope at ATCM will have a life-changing encounter with the Holy Spirit, receive salvation, and work tirelessly to build that relationship in the months they are with us. But we don’t live in a perfect world. And, more times than not, we find ourselves being the planter who merely sows the seed of faith that eventually bears fruit weeks, months or even years after they have left us. Some arrive with a head knowledge of Jesus, and we become the waterers who demonstrate that true faith must be practiced and not merely pondered. Even still, they may not find their true healing until long after their time in Chattanooga is but a memory.

Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 3 reminds us to trust that the harvest comes in God’s timing and that we are to continue to follow the purpose that He has given each of us to be faithful to Him. Of all the various methods of evangelism training I received, none of them ever adequately taught that we are merely the “supporting cast” in a process in which God controls the outcome. Personally, it was a liberating day when I finally understood that He expects me to be the best planter, weeder, or waterer I can be, but it is always—each and every time—He who makes things grow . . . and ultimately bear fruit. 

How awesome to just be a part of the plan!