Spring has barely arrived in middle April in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I was admiring the thick forest of evergreen and hardwood deciduous trees as I walked down the path. Most of the ground is covered with dead branches or trees, leaves, and fallen needles. The ground is frozen and covered in snow from middle Autumn to early April. The amount of light getting to the ground in warmer months is often limited due to the dense canopy of the older trees. Nevertheless, a small fraction of the seeds from the evergreens manage to sprout where there is a little space and light. The image shows one of those patches of seedlings getting started. You might call it a baby forest.
Conditions have to be right for the seedlings to make it to maturity. I began thinking about Jesus’ admonitions about ‘little ones’ in the Gospels. Those who seek God and new believers, whether young or old, are those ‘little ones’. They need extra attention. Most of that care is a self-discipline among the mature to make sure the younger ones grow. Mature trees don’t make choices but mature believers must. They have to remember that the new ones need light themselves, room to grow, circumstances to exercise their new faith, and guidance. Much of this must come from a motivation and example of the love of God from those who are older in Christ, who bring the practicality of the Word of God into focus for others.
Another lesson is the from the size and dominance of mature trees in thick woods. One finds very few new seedlings starting under their thick canopies. It is similar with believers who seem mature and large. If their largeness and maturity is a point of pride or is unwittingly dominant, there is little room for young ones to get started. Rather, Christ’s heart is to those who seem lesser or smaller so that they might be raised up. If a group of believers is seemingly mature with no new ones, then someone has forgotten God’s heart to go after the young, the small, the weak, and the inconsequential.
As I left the forest area I was refreshed. Indeed, God seeks the mature with servant hearts to raise up others and empower them to walk forward. It is needed as much today as ever.
Matthew 18:10 See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
Romans 15:1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.
Galatians 6:1-2 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.