by Katie Delp
We have a peach tree in our backyard. This time of year, it rewards us with juicy, delicious fruit. Our kids get to experience the joy of watching the trees produce and picking their homegrown snacks all on their own. For years, our backyard harvest has also been an opportunity to connect with friends and neighbors over sticky cobbler and vanilla ice cream.
This year, my kids and I cooked up cobbler, peach salsa, and peach ice cream to share with friends and eat way too much of ourselves! When others see our fruity haul, someone inevitably says, “I want to grow peaches in our backyard!”
I support this decision 100%. But sometimes I have to add that we planted the tree six years ago. Sadly, this timeline sometimes deflates the budding urban farmer’s enthusiasm. The hope is to plant this year and have a kitchen full of peaches next year.
I understand this desire to see results quickly.
Too often, it is also the hope of the urban minister or community developer. We have a great idea and we want to implement and hope to see results within the year. But ministry, as with peach trees, rarely produce the good fruit that quickly. And even as the tree matures, there are good years and bad years. Patience is a virtue.
I have lived and worked in South Atlanta for 17 years. For many people, that is a long time. Sometimes even I wonder what I’ve been doing here that long! But I have also been here long enough to see the fruit a community’s work towards restoration. It didn’t take five years for some of the challenges my neighborhood faces to develop, and it won’t take five years for them to change.
But over time, I have witnessed some of the incredible fruit that has grown. Even as I was working on this post, a minivan pulled into my driveway. It was one of our youth from more than a decade ago. He and his wife now live in Texas with their three kids. It was a joy to hear about their life adventures and accomplishments and to celebrate the faithfulness of God in their lives.
I will always advocate for planting seeds! Invest in kids, launch programs, move into the neighborhood, start businesses, get to know your neighbors. These are all wonderful practices that help to water and nurture the seeds as they grow baby roots.
In our society, fast-paced changes are praised. Many of us want to “go big” and make an impact that makes a difference. My encouragement is also to stay and go the distance. In this longevity and faithfulness, we have the opportunity to delight in what God has been growing all along.