"The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened." Matthew 13:33
Much of what seems real in missions is not real. Much of what seems unreal, or unimportant at the moment IS real and DOES last. What we tend to count as important--more often than not--turns out to be unimportant. And those things we give little attention to end up being the real story of God's work in our midst. The key is to trust the invisible "leaven" of the Holy Spirit's work behind the scenes.
Answers.com defines leaven as: An element, influence, or agent that works subtly to lighten, enliven, or modify a whole.
I am slowly beginning to understand that indeed the Kingdom is like leaven. An element, influence, or agent that works subtly, behind the scenes to modify a whole so that Christ is glorified.
Today I was reminded of this truth as we listened to several church planters share their stories about things going on in the various new works. Over and over this theme repeated itself. Many of the things we focus on do not seem to bear much permanent fruit. Yet, God is continually at work doing things all around "our work" that indeed bear eternal fruit.
One brother shared this morning that he had given up trying to reach certain people in his community. Yet the Holy Spirit was silently working all the while behind the scenes. This past Christmas he and his family decided to throw a big Christmas party for the neighborhood children. Without his even asking, all those "difficult people" whom he had given up on, came forward asking how they might help. He now has their respect, their trust, and an open door for truly working with them in the days ahead. Go figure!
Another sister in Christ whom I never thought had much possibility at being an effective church planter shared that after many months of zero results (no surprise there), God began to orchestrate (leaven) things that none of us could have imagined. She was thrilled to be able to report that two of the seven people she is discipling are scheduled to be baptized in the coming days!
Leaven is something we see the effects of after a period of time. We all want to see immediate results. Report instant success. Yet, all around us God is much more deliberate, slowly, continually leavening our three pecks of flour until it is all leavened. It is not an instantaneous process, yet every now and then, the Lord allows us a glimpse of the beautiful work He is indeed doing in our midst.