This past week I jumped in on the tail end of a meeting with Hopesters discussing our numerous outdoor projects at Hope. Things like planting trees for our Meditation Garden, planting seed for our Soccer Field, and how we will water and care for these new projects. I’m always amazed when I think about the work and vision it takes to plant a tree. Someone goes to all the care and effort of getting a tree established and then usually another generation comes along and gets to enjoy their work. I’m so appreciative to all the tree planters here at Hope!
Also, this past Sunday, I joined our High School Youth and shared with them about the upcoming transition and the beautiful picture of discipleship which it represents. Mark Hershey has been our High School Youth Pastor for almost 7 years and in the coming weeks he will be transitioning into a new role here at Hope and Ben Griffis will become our new fulltime High School Youth Pastor. What’s great about this transition is that Ben Griffis has been spending time with Mark for over 6 years, either as a youth, youth intern, or part-time role serving our youth. For years, Mark has been investing in Ben. It’s a beautiful picture of discipleship.
The same can be said of my relationship with Steve. I’ve been on staff at Hope for almost 10 years, 6 of those years in a fulltime role. During my time on staff, I have been spending time with Steve, learning from him, sharing experiences with him, and deepening my friendship with him. It might not be the normal discipleship “program” you read about, but I’ve been Steve’s disciple and he has graciously and patiently taught me.
Planting trees and discipleship have a lot in common! And I think we can learn something about discipleship from the different types of trees that get planted.
Recently, I read about two different types of trees. The banyan is a great tree. It spreads its branches, drops beautiful air-roots, develops secondary trunks and covers the land. A full-grown banyan may cover more than an acre of land! Birds, animals and humans find shelter under its shade. But nothing will ever grow under a banyan tree because of its dense foliage. When a banyan tree dies, the ground beneath lies barren and scorched.
The banana tree is the opposite. Six months after a banana tree sprouts, a second generation of banana tree shoots start to appear. Twelve months later a third generation of shoots appear beside the first ones, which are now six months old. At eighteen months, the main trunk bears bananas that nourish birds, animals and humans. And then… it dies. But, the second-generation banana trees are now fully grown, and in another six months they too bear fruit and die…The cycle continues unbroken as new sprouts emerge every six months, grow, give birth to more sprouts, bear fruit and die.
We have a lot of banana tree planters at Hope! I’m incredibly thankful for the time, energy, and sacrifice it takes to plant trees that are enjoyed and bear fruit for future generations. I hope we as a church never stop planting trees.