“That they may be called Oaks of Righteousness, a planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”

— Isaiah 61:3b

Our text is the prophecy of Isaiah, not only the words of Isaiah but also the words that Jesus quotes in Luke 4 in his hometown. Not only does he quote them, he finds them as his purpose. Not only does he find them as his purpose, he also passes this purpose on to the Church that he sends. According to Isaiah 61, all ministry is planting acorns and hoping for oak trees.

OK now. What does that mean? Consider the oak tree. If I planted an acorn today, it would have to be watered, fed, and nourished. It would need care, and there’s no guarantee that it will grow.

If it does grow, the sapling will mature in twenty to thirty years. Given the right circumstances, it will start producing acorns and ramp up its acorn production until the tree reaches the age of eighty. At that point, the oak tree is mature, sustaining its production for the next four hundred years.

If I plant an acorn now, I will only begin to see it mature by the time I am sixty years old. I would be one hundred ten years old before its production peaks, and I would have to be five hundred ten years old before I would truly see the breadth and depth of the legacy that I planted.

So, what does this mean? Ministry is planting acorns. It is faithfulness in our tasks, knowing that the fruit of our labors may take twenty, thirty, or more than a lifetime to see. It is being caring and kind today, knowing that the fruit of our labors may take a generation and more to see. Or, perhaps we will never see it, but the next generation will.

And so, thanks be to God that ours is a ministry shared with us by Jesus Christ. His charter is the one that he passes on to us. His teaching and promises, they are our spade and watering can. His Word is planted into the hearts of our families. His watchful eye surveys all that we plant, season after season, life after life. And even when we do not live to see the Word bear fruit, he does see.

So, today, I would invite you to go, sharing the Gospel so that we may be called oaks of righteousness. Go, sharing the Gospel so that they may be the planting of the Lord, in his time. Go, to the end that he may be glorified. Go, knowing that you might plant the seeds, and as Paul says in 1 Corinthians, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

Peace.

Paul Muther is associate pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Janesville.

Jeffrey Jackson is the managing editor of the Owatonna People's Press. He can be reached at 507-444-2371 or via email at jjackson@owatonna.com

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