Written by Tim

Early in our marriage I was tasked with making something of the desolate retaining wall garden bed in our backyard. Nothing grew in it (definitely because I never watered it). It had full sun, its soil was mostly clay and in summer the ground would bake until the soil was very hard. 

And then my Granny came to the rescue. She brought me a handful of stems of Aeoniums, a kind of succulent flower, and we jammed them in the garden bed.

They went bunta.

Each individual stem grew and sprouted more. I started to cut them off and jam them in other parts of the retaining wall. This caused them to sprout even more, till when we sold the house last year, the entire retaining wall – the length of the property – was a green oasis. What was a barren wasteland was now brimming with life (albeit mostly the same kind of life.)

As you can see from this extremely high quality image.

This is not a celebration of my non existent gardening prowess, if anything you can see my love for growth to a fault. Anything that died, died. Whatever lived, I sowed more of. And because only one thing lived, I only planted one thing. Of course, It’s out of my deep passion for the environment that I forget to water all of my plants.

You reap what you sow. You have to put in to get out. It’s an enduring principle of life that permeates the scriptures and our modern (or is it post-post-post-modern now?) philosophies (think every motivational quote ever).

But I think there’s a nuance to this principle, that is best explained with Compound Interest.

Compound interest is earning interest on your interest. Confused? See this simple graphic from The Balance on why it’s awesome if it’s working in your favour.

Compound interest makes your money grow without you doing anything to it. Sometimes you don’t reap what you sow. Sometimes you reap what you don’t sow. Sometimes what you get out is because of what you didn’t put in.

Let me explain this further.

I once read an article by Carey Nieuwhof, a former lawyer and pastor that writes and speaks about leadership, change management and church growth. The premise was the way you live in your 20’s, 30’s and 40’s predetermines to some extent the way your 50’s, 60’s and 70’s turn out. Deal with significant personal issues in your 20’s and your marriage probably won’t blow up in your 40’s. Wrestle through a vision for your life based on who God has created you to be in your 30’s, and by your 50’s your life will be a force.

Whoever it is you are, whatever it is you do, however you spend your time for good or bad right now: The decades will multiply it.

If you have bitterness towards someone and you wont forgive them, time won’t heal that, time will fester it like an infected wound and without treatment it will eventually spread all over your life and be the death of you.

But, If you cultivate a heart that is deeply in love with the living God, and you allow him into your inner life, and you allow the form of your life to be shaped by Him and in His Way, then you will reap the fruit of a life marked by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

It won’t happen overnight, but over a life-time of giving the Spirit permission to change us, we will reap the benefits.

Little by little, year by year; building on itself like compound interest.

You will reap what you did or did not sow.

Who are you now? What are you like? How do you spend your time?

You will see the fruit of it, good or rotten as the years pass.

When I understood this, it was an invitation from God to allow him to grow and change me. I realised that I had a lot of things I needed to work through now – later would have been far too late. So I got some professional help. I opened my life and my pain to God’s healing. I might not see the fruit of that for decades, but I see the buds.

Reading this today for you could be an invitation from God, to see your life with His perspective, to see the kind of life you are sowing right now, to see the likely fruit of it and to come to Him and open your life to participate in the change He wants to do within you.

If the years work like compound interest, how will you invest your life?