Personal Growth


"You do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good." (Eccl. 11:6b, ESV).

"Of what use is this?"

"What fruit will this bear for the kingdom of God?"

We never know.

It's the question we should never ask. First, we'll not get an answer until we get to heaven. And second, to insist on knowing what God will do with our effort, our gift, our witness, before we act is to remove all faith from it. And without faith, pleasing God is impossible (Heb. 11:6).

You drop your offering into the plate at church. There it goes. Where it will end up, what it will accomplish, God alone knows. Your church has a budget, you know how the money will be added together and which causes it will fund. But your particular gift, you have no way of telling.

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You're distributing flyers for your church. Some, you know, will end up in the garbage. Some will never be read. But what if one or two become instruments for the Holy Spirit and someone's life is forever changed? Wouldn't that be worth all the effort?

You offer up your prayers. You intercede for Gary's health, for Joel Kent's healing, for empowerment for Tom and Bonnie, for blessings for James and Lari, and for daily watchcare over various ones. But you do not know what good your prayers do. You have no way of monitoring situations before and after you prayed, to see "what hath God wrought."

"We walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7, MEV).

You do not know how God uses your prayers for missionaries, for pastors, for the sick, for anyone. Once in a while, you are given a fleeting glimpse. But very rarely. And even then, you have no way of knowing whether this thing happened—someone was healed, saved, got a job or was protected—as a result of your prayers.

And so we labor on. We pray. We give. We serve. We witness.

And we leave it with the Lord.

I drove across town and surprised an 8-year-old for her birthday party. Her parents were in the ministry, and we all shared a deep mutual appreciation. When I volunteered to crash the birthday party—just long enough to draw the children—they jumped at it. So, I sketched Gabrielle and her buddies as well as the adults present, then left. She is now in college and may not even recall that "Brother Joe" did such a thing for her. What did I accomplish? God knows. And I'm good with that.

As I write, last Friday night, my wife and I drove 241 miles round trip to crash another party. This time it was for the beloved granddaughter of a minister friend. He and I worked it out, and we had a fun experience sketching Celeste and her classmates and family members. We were tired when we got home, but we had enjoyed our drive and the opportunity to see these friends.

What did we accomplish?

The mother of our Lord told the servants in Cana, "Whatever He says to you, do it" (John 2:5b). She had no idea Jesus was going to ask the servants to fill those six water pots to the brim. That could have been as much as 180 gallons in all. Yet, they did it without a clue as to what would happen.

They were witnesses of our Lord's first miracle.

The Lord said to Simon Peter, "'Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.' But Simon said, 'Lord, we have toiled all night and caught nothing. Nevertheless'—did he emit a sigh or a groan?—at Your word, I will let down the net'" (Luke 5:4b-5). That's Luke 5, and you know how that turned out.

We are not to ask. Just do it.

Joe McKeever is retired from the pastorate but still active in preaching, writing, and cartooning for Christian publications. He lives in Ridgeland, Mississippi.

This article originally appeared at

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