Sometimes things just grow.
Sometimes it has nothing to do with us. Sometimes we just show up and provide a little bit of support. Sometimes we come in and do all the work, working and planting and nourishing and worrying. Sometimes nothing seems to happen until long after we have forgotten about it and moved on.
Actually, this isn’t really about gardening — mostly because I’m terrible at gardening and know almost nothing about it.
No, this is about basketball.
Our youth play in an intramural basketball league with other local United Methodist Church’s youth groups. We are called the Fighting Penguins and we are known more for “half-time nap-time,” our dancing Penguin mascot and our plethora of half-court heaves than we are for winning games … Usually. But not this year. Because this year, the Penguins are winning games. We’re heading into Championship Weekend as the #2 seed. And if you come watch them play, you will immediately notice that they are good.
By the way, it has nothing to do with me. I haven’t added practices or implemented schemes or provided extremely motivational half-time speeches. I haven’t done anything that any coach before me has done — really, I’ve probably done less.
But sometimes things just grow. The core of our team is made up of youth that are here week after week, but every week we’re adding new names to our roster — and it’s everyone from 6th graders to high schoolers that haven’t ever come before to friends of kids that are just coming because it’s a chance to play basketball. Kids that would never hang out together are joking and laughing on the bench and are supporting each other on the court. Kids that don’t come to anything else are the ones that are at the games every single week because they have found a place within our ministry that they feel like they belong.
These aren’t things that we can force or that we can engineer, they just happen organically. Just in this semester we have seen parents form and run support groups for one another and create a community of support around our ministry, and over the last couple of years we have seen our attendance and participation in Sunday School and The Refuge grow by 30%.
And it has very little to do with us.
There are a couple stories about Jesus healing blind men in the Gospel of John, but this particular one comes from chapter 9. This man had been blind since birth, and when Jesus and his disciples passed by where the man was sitting, Jesus took some mud from the ground and smeared it on the man’s eyes and sent him to wash off the mud in a nearby pool. When the man went and washed in the pool, his sight returned and he could see. The man’s neighbors and the religious leaders around him couldn’t believe that this miracle had happened, and they began to question him about what had happened and who had done this. When they found out that the man had been healed on the Sabbath and that Jesus had been the one to heal him, they called Jesus a sinner, saying, “This man isn’t from God, because he breaks the Sabbath law” (John 9:16). They began to try to discredit Jesus, trying everything from interrogating the man about who he thought Jesus was to bringing his parents in to try to prove that he could always see. The scripture continues:
“Therefore, they called a second time for the man who had been born blind and said to him, ‘Give God the glory. We know this man is a sinner.’ The man answered, ‘I don’t know whether he’s a sinner. Here’s what I do know: I was blind and now I see.’” (John 9:24-25)
The man knew the steps he had walked and the little things that happened between that moment with Jesus and this one with the Pharisees. But he didn’t know how the miracle had worked, he didn’t know whether Jesus was a prophet or a sinner or the Messiah — all he knew is that he could see.
Sometimes things just happen in the world around us that we really can’t explain. Sometimes we work as hard as we can and it still seems like nothing is happening. Sometimes we just show up and provide a little bit of support and good things grow.
Most of the time things happen organically, with or without us. Most of the time all we can do is sit back and appreciate the beauty of all the things growing around us and be thankful that we can see.
Because sometimes things just grow.
Associate Director of Youth Ministries