Friday, February 11, 2005

Not-so-organized thoughts about sowing and reaping

I woke up flooded with these thoughts on Wednesday morning, two days ago:

What happens when you sow? You put something away, where you can’t see it. You bury it as if it is dead. “A seed falls into the ground and dies.” And then God makes it grow. “If you sow, God will make it grow.”
This is one of the simplest mysteries of the kingdom of heaven – a man puts seed in the ground, and goes to sleep. While he sleeps, it grows – he knows not how. In the end, he not only gets it back, but it multiplies! Not a percentage increase (12%, 18%, 24% return), but a manifold increase! (30-, 60-, and 100-fold)
You reap in proportion to your sowing – he who sows sparingly shall reap sparingly
You reap after the likeness of your sowing – flesh vs. spirit
Sowing in tears, reaping in joy – we often don’t like sowing because we don’t like tears
Where do you pour out your heart? Where do you weep, fast, pray?
Between porch and altar...
Why do we have to sow? Aren’t there things that are already growing?
You may reap where another has sown
In the garden, and in paradise, good things grow without our sowing
In heaven – no more tears, eternal reaping
In hell – weeping, but no reaping
For now, one of the main aspects of life – we have to sow to get good things
Weeds grow without any effort of sowing
Weeds will suck the nutrients away from the crops, and choke out the word
Clear out the weeds!
Keeping something in your basement is not the same as sowing – you have to put it in the field!
Seed potatoes – they may sprout in the basement, which is fine, but don’t let them rot there
Don’t hide your seed “under a rock”, like the man with the one talent – it can’t grow there!
This is a matter of faith!
A farmer plants, expecting a harvest
Because of this, he keeps investing even after the seed is planted
He waters
He weeds
He fertilizes
He protects
In due season we shall reap, if we faint not
Where can you sow?
Find good ground
Prepare good seed
God wants you to sow – He provides seed for the sower! Just like a parent helping his child to plant beans. And the child is delighted when he sees the sprout come up.
Sowing unlocks the potential contained in the seed! Sowing brings it to life! Otherwise, it doesn’t look like much. Sowing plus water. Water alone may make it germinate, but it needs the soil for nutrients and support. By the time you see it above ground, there is a whole structure underground!
By God’s blessing, the wilderness shall become a fertile field!
Gen. 26:12 – Now Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. And God blessed him.
Ex. 23:10-11 – What about the Sabbath year? In this year, you do not sow, and you let the poor and even the beasts reap what naturally grows. If you sow with consistency, some will grow without you sowing. Also, God promises to bless the sixth year, so that you reap enough to eat for three years!
Ex. 23:12-13 – God wanted to make sure that they did not work the ground every day, but only six days a week. So that we would not give ourselves exhaustingly to sowing.
The Jewish feasts were mostly built around the sowing and reaping seasons
In revival, sowing and reaping become close together – there is little wait, which is both blessing and danger.
Lev. 26:1-5 – blessings of obedience – threshing will last until grape gathering, and grape gathering until until sowing. One key blessing of obedience is that much of the time, you are reaping something.
Lev. 26:14-16 – A penalty of disobedience – you will sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies will eat it up.
Deut. 11:8-18 – The promised land – God does much of the farming for you, not like Egypt, where you had to do all the work. But if you are disobedient, then the Lord will withhold the rains, and nothing will grow.
The rains are everything! You can even grow seed with water but no soil. But with soil and no water, nothing happens.
My grandfather’s story of the dustbowl days – seed would not even germinate.
Most areas of our lives – we need the right rains to fall at the right times for things to go well. God blesses the obedient in this way. His grace is there at the right moment to talk to your kids and see them change and mature, and lay hold of Him. He warms the heart of a potential business client. He warms the heart of a prospective spouse. He opens the womb.
Lord, send rain! Send the early and latter rains, so that all the various plantings will grow!Normally, because it takes a while between sowing and reaping, we DO faint, as the scripture warns us not to (Gal. 6:9). We give up, thinking this doesn’t work.
One thing that can help is that we can reap where we have not sown (John 4:38). In this way, we can enjoy some reaping, and can be encouraged to begin to sow again. This can happen by getting close to someone who has been consistently sowing, and who has a consistent harvest.
Again, if we are faithful, one harvest will overlap another, and we can have reaping much of the time (Lev. 26:1-5). However, it then becomes easy to falsely conclude that we have entered into the Paradise we so deeply long for, where we no longer have to sow in order to reap. Because of the time interval between sowing and reaping, when we stop sowing, we may continue to reap for a season. Then, when the harvest is depleted, we suddenly realize that we are empty. We may start sowing again, but if we are not patient, we may expect a quick harvest, and lose heart when it doesn’t come quickly. We might conclude that it just doesn’t work, and that our “season of blessing” is over.
Hos. 10:12 – “Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you.” It is time to start sowing where we have not been laboring, and to sow with good seed. And if we walk in the Lord’s ways, and seek Him, He will come and bring rains of righteousness for us, which will cause the seed to grow.
You don’t do much sowing and reaping when the Lord leads you through the wilderness. There, He feeds you with His own hand, though the provision might not be exactly what you would choose. It is miraculous provision, and also the food of humility, as we can claim no strength or success in what we have accomplished. But we do learn about His tender care, and we learn to rely fully on Him. In fact, when we enter into the fruitful land, and we begin to sow, it is only by the rains that He sends and the land that He blesses that we are able to reap a harvest. It is not because of our own strength.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

A First, and Meager, Attempt

I'm going to try to do the impossible. I am going to try and do nothing except give a few brief sentences about what's in my heart today. Normally, succinct I am not.
1) I am still stunned every time I see how deeply people hold dramatically different views of the Lord's demeanor, all while reflecting Him richly in their lives.
2) Too many mundane tasks take too much time.
3) I am amazed at how God wants our lives to be filled with joy and gladness.
4) I can't wait to drench myself in the Bible, as it is so alive to me right now, and yet I will allow other tasks to steal the first place in my time.
5) I long for the simplicity of a truly worship-centered life.
6) When will the Lord clearly reveal Himself to the hearts of my children?
7) I crave to learn way too much stuff - from music to math to computers to history to theology.
8) I am hungry for Jesus' presence to be clear and strong when I gather with other believers.
That's it for today. Much grace, fear, and delight to you, reader!