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I’m so grateful every single day to be able to be a little part of such a great place where work is done for God’s glory and the good of His people every single day. Union University is one of the biggest and best blessings I’ve ever experienced! (And I’d say that any day, not just at the beginning of the fall semester with all the excitement of new and returning students. Welcome and welcome back, one and all!)
Here’s a few thoughts on my life as a professor here at Union University – hope that you might be encouraged in them, independent of what you do every day as your job…
1 Corinthians 3:7-9 NLT It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.
I’ve spent many hours in a greenhouse. Yes, a literal greenhouse with glass walls and ceiling, concrete floors, and rows upon rows of metal shelves holding hundreds of pots with plants all being watered by automatic sprinklers or me and a hose.
Twice a day watering, often taking over an hour each time, was the norm. After mixing up potting soil in the horse trough and filling starter seed pots, it was my favorite task, especially on those particularly hot sunny July or August afternoons when I watered myself along with the seedlings.
There was always work to do in the greenhouse. Finish one task, start the next was the expected routine. And as the seedlings and I grew, so did my tasks and responsibilities associated with them. Watering plants progressed to floor washing to remove algae with the added expectation of not getting bleach on the plants or pots nor falling on the now-clean glass-slick floors. Over time with growth in stature and successful task completion involving more and more healthy seedlings, I received more tasks I liked mixed in with those I didn’t.
Today I work in a different greenhouse with liked (and not) tasks and even more seedlings under my care. This greenhouse doesn’t have glass walls and ceilings. But it does have rows of metal shelves containing lab equipment and chemicals or books and papers. And these seedlings require far more tender care than the ones of years ago. Today’s seedling students and colleagues don’t require replanting or repotting; they need pruning, praying-over, patience, and lesson-planning. All of which demand at least a twice-daily watering of my heart with confession and quiet alongside Scripture and the promptings of my Savior. And on those hot stressful exam or presentation afternoons of mid to late semester, I need the biggest hose available! For these seedling students and colleagues can’t be thrown away, started over, or replaced when I mess up; they can only be asked for forgiveness sown in prayers for grace that God will use even this for good. He alone can incorporate mercies into their hearts and mine which He has planted in this greenhouse for His glory and the good of His people.
There’s always work to do in today’s greenhouse. As seedlings, colleagues, and I grow together in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, we learn more of the joy associated with the opportunities and responsibilities of being little Christs. We help water each other with the Word while watching ourselves for risks of not-clean minds and glass-slick temptations. Over time with growth in sanctification and image-bearing involving more and more seedlings needing our care, my colleagues and I receive more tasks we like mixed in with those we don’t. Rather than complain, we cry out to our Good Gardener God for essential nutrients of hope, faith, courage, and joy. And He gives them in abundance.
One task I never did in my first greenhouse was opening and closing the windows. I was too short to properly reach the windows, both in stature and knowing when they needed adjustment. Yet I understood early on the importance and implications of proper timing and spacing in window apertures. Too late or too narrow meant burned up plants from heat. Too early or too wide meant insufficient humidity for maximum photosynthesis. Thus, greenhouse window management was always Daddy’s job. The same principle holds true for today’s greenhouse and still short me. My leaders know well what is needed for all of us to thrive, both in the timing and width of decision-making. Their careful watching of the environments inside and out keeps our greenhouse at maximum growth levels. Just like Daddy always welcomed prayer and questions during the first greenhouse years, they do the same with me today, of which I am exceedingly grateful!
As hard as greenhouse work was then and is now, I rest in knowing that it’s not me making things happen. God gives the seedlings; God makes them (and me) grow. There’s real freedom in that truth. God assigns the tasks while giving the strength for them to be accomplished. And He never stops teaching any of us who are willing to learn how to be good greenhouse workers, no matter how short we might still be today.
I’d LOVE for you to join me on this journey to Jesus, please click on the link below to sign up to follow this blog – thank YOU!
And if you’re looking for a Bible study book to encourage you in your quiet times and in your days, here’s a link where you can purchase Good Ground, Volume 1 directly from Northeastern Baptist Press:
Good Ground, Volume 1 is also available from Amazon, Walmart, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, and other book distributors.
Stay tuned for Good Ground, Volume 2 coming October 2022, also from Northeastern Baptist Press! (and for something else new also coming soon after that from Northeastern Baptist Press just in time for Christmas…I’m so excited about this I can barely hold it in!)
Written by and copyrighted to Beth Madison, Ph.D., 2022.