"When's the best time to plant a tree? 10 years ago.
When's the 2nd best time? Today."
The saying makes a point, and as someone who has been raised to appreciate trees, I plant at least one tree in our yard, every year.
More important than trees though, when's the best time to share God with a friend or neighbor? The answer has to be today. If I had done so 10 years ago, they would be well on their way to spiritual maturity now, providing benefit to generations after them, not unlike the sturdy Linden in my front yard.
Also like that Linden tree, I need to be attentive to my own growth, and that of those around me. We care for literally hundreds of trees that we have planted at work. In a drought year like this, we slowly water the root balls of trees that show stress, some of them transplanted 5+ years ago. Like those trees that are showing signs of stress, we need to be diligent about caring for the spiritual growth of those trees in our community, whatever their age, or however long they have believed. Slow, steady prayer, study, and communion with God is the only way to grow a believer; a quick splash of love or worship now and again might keep faith alive, but a person will never thrive.
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13: 31-32 (NIV)