Take a look at the mushroom above. It's a lovely porcini mushroom growing through thick moss in the forests of Southern Finland. It knows what it was created to be and you can see how it has pushed through the moss with all it's might to get to the surface and show off it's crown of glory! When you pick these mushrooms you realise those stems go deep into the ground, there is a lot of stem that is hidden by that moss! And as I reflect on the act of hunting for these 'treasures' of the forest, it made me think about where God has lead us thus far, and what He is leading us toward.
This year began with a prayer to seek God's purposes for our lives in the Czech Republic. Many of you know that the plans we had when we intended on coming out here were altered after we came to the field. Truly, "Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand" (Proverbs 19:21). Though we cling to God's broad plan of drawing His people to Himself for His glory, we earnestly have wanted to understand how our family fits specifically into those purposes. But I confess that while praying this prayer I have been quick to concentrate on the result of my purpose, not the purpose of the Lord. It has manifested in dreaming up things like a house church, a thriving women's ministry, a multiplying bible study or a missional community, the list goes on. But while reflecting on mushrooms, I have learned many things that have applied to our situation.
Did you know?
— What we know as a 'mushroom' is actually the fruit of a fungus.
— That fungus is a living body called 'mycelium', a root system usually well hidden in the soil.
— The body/stem of a mushroom is where the nutrients and essential compounds are found. When there is enough material stored and the conditions are right, the fungus begins to 'fruit', producing mushrooms.
— Mushrooms love to grow in the dark, they prefer moist dark condition with little sunlight.
— All this to say, the art of a grown mushroom really takes place in a 'hidden kingdom'.
WOW. So many lessons from the humble mushroom. I have been admittedly too quick to consider my fruit, instead of developing the living root system that supports the 'fruit'. While I have thought about how I may serve others, I haven't spent as much time considering what nutrients and essential compounds I need to support 'fruit', let alone God's timing of the fruit (when there is enough material stored and the conditions are right). And while I can foolishly consider my own 'glory', I need to reconsider what it looks like to 'grow in the dark', out of the limelight, existing in this 'hidden kingdom'.
Learning about mushrooms, hunting them for the treasures that they are, and understanding more about how we can steward what God has given us, has really been a theme for us this summer. We are still coming into our own, constantly trying to understand who we are as missionaries. Often asking questions with those around us who have had more experience...how do you understand God's purposes?
And often, through gracious friends, we have been reminded to be faithful with what God has given us right now. Stewardship - how we steward our experiences, our resources, our time, our relationships, even our own family. It has all been good food to chew on.
So as the summer comes to a close, there are new things to consider as we continue to seek God for His purposes - a living, active, root system, a body packed full of nutrients, ready to fruit when God's time is right and a humbled approach to this growth happening in the dark, hidden from sunlight. Though it's good to know what our 'fruit' may look like, it seems like there are good and hard things to build upon first, instead of being consumed first by our fruit.
Praise God for mushrooms! Praise God for His perfect timing, His sovereignty and His gracious work on the cross that allows us to freely develop as mushrooms because of Christ's love and sacrifice for us! Every time we come across a mushroom, I am reminded of it's 'hidden kingdom', and I'm very happy for what the humble 'houby' has taught me this summer about life on the field.