Planting Olive Trees
Psa. 102:18 Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD:
This prayer of intercession has been penned and in the center we discover a plea for the faith story to be recorded for a generation not yet born. The faith of this generation is to be carried into the next and the next. What happens to the author of the Psalm has the potential of everlasting impact when the eternal is in view. The concern reaches far beyond this day, or even next month because one looks beyond their own immediate needs. Just as the people of the middle-east taught us that they don’t plant olive trees for themselves, but for the next generation, so God’s followers are to record God’s faithfulness for those to come.
I’m not sure that we think too much about olive tree planting and living these days. We live in an instant world and often we want immediate satisfaction. We don’t think about doing things that may have no impact on our lives whatsoever, but will produce fruit in the lives of our children. Yet, this is the call of the psalmist, to think about the ones who are yet unborn.
What I find in the church these days is a desperate attempt to solve the problem of decline. How in the world do we get more people to come to our churches? We are looking for short-term solutions without considering the long-term consequences. It’s easy to fill a building by attracting people to exciting events. The only problem is that there may not be much spiritual depth which follows and the shallow roots will eventually lead to fragility. When the winds of change blow there will be no deep root system to keep the church aright. We’ve all known this since the days of our childhood when we sang about the wise man who build his house on rock. It takes a lot of time and energy to build a house on a rock. To build a house on sand is quick and easy, but the destruction is great.
We need to metaphorically plant olive trees. That is, we need to consider that ministry is about investment for the long-term and not just to feel “successful” today. What will our children inherit from us spiritually? Hopefully we will take the time to cultivate a spiritual life that will someday bear fruit. This takes years of investment in discipleship, training and education so that they grow up healthy. The same is true about churches. As communities of faith we need to take the time to slow down and get to know God. In knowing God we allow the Holy Spirit free reign to do transformational work in our lives.
We also need to give space to those called to ministry to take the time to be discipled and gain an education. When we begin to look for short-cuts we end up with shallow root systems. There will be the occasional “olive tree” that makes it to maturity but many will not survive. Those who are unborn may not have an opportunity to praise the LORD because we have not faithfully invested in "recording" the faith for the generation to come.
What we do today is not only for our personal experience, but an investment for those to come. Now that I have a baby granddaughter that point really does make a difference to me. I want her to experience the love of Jesus. I want her to experience Christ through the church. I want there to be an awesome pastor who influences her life and points her in the direction of Christ. I want to plant an olive tree for her and for the many who are yet unborn.
Lord, please help me not to take short-cuts for my own personal benefit. Amen.
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