While seasons change, our Gardener is ever present.
Over the last few months I’ve been blessed to take a few moments to pause underneath our apple tree. To see the transformation of the winter branches, to see the beautiful blossoms and hear the bees buzzing excitedly and the songs of birds as they visit and explore the leaf-covered branches. It’s provided time for me to reflect on my personal and spiritual journey in leadership.
Growing up in Tasmania, Australia, our state is often referred to as the Apple Isle. As a young girl I spent hours playing and working in a small orchard my parents had planted. Nothing quite tastes as nice as freshly picked fruit. I was blessed with active spiritual parents and a church who provided opportunities for children and their families to assist and lead out in age-appropriate roles. It provided me with a setting to try a variety of roles within the local church. My parents were active in their faith and service, inviting my brother and I to join in. From here opportunities to share my faith within my school community, represent my church on a youth advisory, become a Pathfinder leader and counsellor for Tween Camp (our junior/teen holiday camp) naturally flowed on. I remember feeling so mature when my mother took me to my first Women’s Ministries retreat.
Dreams of adventure, travel and freedom saw me take flight for study and take a break from local church roles. On completion of my studies and as a result of God’s leading, I ended up back where I’d vowed I’d never return to live — Tasmania — at my old school! God certainly has a sense of humour in grafting and shaping us so we become more fruitful. Once again, I became active in my local church and was surprised when I was approached to take on the Women’s Ministries leadership role. Sometimes curiosity and questions set us up for God to use while providing opportunities for others to mentor us and see ways God is working in our lives which we’ve missed.
Seasons of service look different for each of us and sometimes God has to bring us back to remind us of His care and protection. To allow us to pause and listen to His calling. Our Gardener views each of us individually and assigns us, if we are willing to be used, for His work. Just like a gardener tends the fruit trees, prunes them and uses the fruit produced, so too on reflection I can see how God used my past roles to equip me, nurture me and provide spiritual mentors to lead me into the next season of leadership. As an orchard experiences seasons and cycles, so too have my leadership roles within my family and my church. Imagine my surprise at becoming Women’s Ministries leader for the Tasmanian Conference and becoming responsible for the events that had previously fed me spiritually along with countless others.
In October 2020 I came full circle from attendee at a retreat to the speaker. In the venue (Spring Beach Youth Camp) where I had been baptised 20 years ago almost to the week, I was able to serve a community who invested so much in me. I’m passionate in sharing how God has personally invested in me and helped me. You might say to share and serve just as I used to in our family orchard. I’ve made mistakes along the way, I’m still a work-in-progress and yet I feel blessed to have the opportunity to share the journey with others and Christ’s love through active service. While seasons change, our Gardener is ever present. He provides restful shade, bountiful blessings and can transform our lives to bloom and encourage another sister on her spiritual journey. Remember it only takes one action to touch a heart for eternity. By sharing today I might encourage another to rely on the Gardener in her leadership journey, big or small. God uses us all.
by Krystal Harder, Women’s Ministries leader, Tasmania
Writing for Adventist Women.