God Gave the Increase
1 Cor. 1:25 - 1 Cor. 7:32
Every year our family plants a garden.
I will admit, we are not the most knowledgeable gardeners, but we do our best, and have tried our hand at onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, cantaloupe, peppers, and squash.
One year the weather was hard to work with. It was too cold and there was too much wind. Every day I would check our garden and find that one or another of our plants hadn’t made it through the night. So, I made it a habit to stop at our local nursery to pick up a few more vegetable plants to replace the ones that hadn’t survived. When I returned home I would carefully replant ––some here, some there, wherever there was a lack.
As it finally turned warm, it seemed the only variety left at the nurseries came from the squash family, and as I planted these I told myself, at least we would have a plentiful harvest of squash.
We worked in the garden all summer long ––picking weeds, watering, and watching for the crop to appear.
Those of you who are avid gardeners probably know what happened; when the harvest came it was not at all what we had expected!
Our harvest consisted of long skinny zucchini that were green on both ends, but brilliant orange in the middle, yellow squash with bright green zucchini caps, cucumbers that were deep orange, and butternut squash that were green and striped like cucumbers.
It was a disaster!
All of our hours spent to no avail ––failure.
However, as I have pondered that experience I have changed my mind. There was an increase, just not the one we had expected.
We experienced an increase of knowledge (I now know not to plant squash randomly in close proximity again,) an increase of laughter as our family and friends waited to see what the harvest would produce, and an increase of support and unity as we found the joy in the hours we spent together working in the garden rather than finding fulfillment in what came out of the garden.
In the end there was a bounteous increase, just not the one we had in mind.
Sometimes our level of expectations for what we think we are in need of can blind us from truly seeing the harvest Heavenly Father sends.
Paul says, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase…and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” (1 Cor. 3:6-9 & 23.)
I believe this to be true.
We labor together with God, but it is He who gives the increase in every aspect of our life.
We must have faith in Him, we must learn to trust that when the growing season is over, the increase will come.
It is important to remember that the increase is not always found in temporal blessings or miraculous healings, sometimes the increase is found in spiritual growth.
Each of our lives will include moments when we put all of our effort into a situation and when all is said and done, we feel that we have failed.
I think of individuals or families who keep the commandments, pray fervently, study consistently, serve diligently, and still experience the challenges of Earth Life such as a wayward child, unfulfilled aspirations, remaining single or childless, or insurmountable health obstacles.
I have learned that if we limit our horizon to include just this mortal experience, we become shortsighted and fail to comprehend the full measure of the promised increase.
We cannot underestimate the purpose of our mortal existence.
We must not forget that life will include both Nauvoo’s peaceful moments and the painful moments of Liberty Jail. History shows that God’s growing seasons include times when our faith is proven and found sufficient.
Therein lies the increase.
When we find ourselves in those Liberty moments we must be willing to trust and labor together with God, reminding ourselves that Nauvoo’s splendor lies ahead.
Our labor and obedience will strengthen our belief and when the growing season is over, the increase will come.