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Posts Tagged ‘sowing and reaping’

It’s a process, this sowing and reaping thing. Generally, this pairing is used as a metaphor for the bad things that happen in our lives, but of course, good planting makes for good results. Unfortunately, the good seeds seem to grow a lot slower than all the rest.

Hosea 10:12
Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.

I’m not really much of a gardener so I’m sure I’ll play havoc with this metaphor but there are some pictures that come to mind. For instance, the last time I tried to prepare and plant a 10×10 foot vegetable garden in my back yard.

Soil preparation was a complete nightmare. We live in one of those developments and didn’t realize how much refuse is buried on a lot before or while they are building a house. I found huge globs of cement, parts of boards, rocks, and even empty cans in that small plot of land I was trying to plow up by hand. And of course, the soil was as hard as could be. We finally had to buy top soil to dig into the original dirt which was worthless (it’s a wonder that grass could grow).

Finally, I got the dirt to look somewhat welcoming to a small starter plant or seed. And this was probably the best part of the process, the actual sowing or planting. Little did I know that the next challenges would be equally daunting: deer from the woods could easily hop over our split rail fence, our dogs and cats liked the new fresh soil for digging and leaving personal gifts, the weeds were indistinguishable from the plants (to my untrained eye), and the Maryland weather offered no assistance whatsoever.

So, after all that, what did I reap? Two broccoli heads, scrawny tomatoes, wilted lettuce, holey peppers, and three carrots of diminutive size. Go ahead and laugh. It’s a willow tree now anyway.

I’m glad the Holy Spirit is a better gardener/farmer than me. Oh, I know, I still have to participate, but I think the overall procedure is in God’s hands if I release my control, my time table, and my expectations.

Just keep doing the “right” thing, as best I can. Again and again and again. Keep trusting. Keep forgiving. Keep asking for forgiveness.

In both Mark 4:8 and 4:20 in the parable of the sower, I am promised a 30-60-100 fold return, but there is no promise about when.

Sowing in the Spirit realm is a marathon, not a sprint.

I love the idea of “unfailing love.” In this phrase is hope and promise, persistence and progress. I am actually living in the midst of unfailing love right now, no matter what my circumstances might try to negate. I have planted with Christ. Now, I must stand and give thanks because those other roads I could have taken, back there in my past, would have destroyed my garden altogether, I’m sure.

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Here we go. The predestination (Calvinist) argument comes up again. Is this an exclusive club? After all, the Jews were a chosen people? Why can’t we be too? Don’t think so.

Ephesians 1:4-5b
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted . . .

Truthfully, I think the Jews were chosen to carry the mantle of the One God and to prepare the way for the completion of those long ago promises. They were to be the roots from which the tree would grow and the Messiah would emerge. But once the Messiah completed the mission on earth, all humans had access in a way they never had before. All people could come in. Is this a type of predestination? I believe it is. But it is far more spacious than most Christians of today believe.

Christ is the way because the long-awaited Messiah was the promised way. It’s not so much about becoming a Christian as it is accepting the story, the redemption of humanity to God.

This also goes back to the sowing and reaping principle. [Galatians 6:7-8] This is part of the human condition and is a law not unlike gravity. It is the work of the Christ that can break that pattern. Without that messianic intervention, we bear the burden of our sowing alone.

I am not interested in arguing as to whether there are those who are not predestined to accept Christ. Instead, I give thanks for those who have accepted this way. And I give thanks for my own epiphany. Without it, I would be dead by now. This I know to be sure.

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I don’t like doing anything slowly. Part of that is my personality and part of it I inherited from our current culture. Fast food, fast cars, fast acting detergent, whatever! About the only ones who appreciate slow are the Slowskies from the Comcast commercials.

Galatians 6:7b, 9
A man reaps what he sows. . . . Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

But truthfully, sowing has it’s own rate of speed. I can’t make something grow any faster than it’s intended to grow. It’s total futility to sit in front of a small pot and try to talk a seed into germinating. That is all God-stuff. It’s that way in nature and it’s undoubtedly the same way in the soil of the human soul.

I have posted about the Tortoise before. This ongoing battle of speed. My mind starts that buzzing first. I wake up in the mornings, and my mind is racing far ahead of my body. It makes me tired. I want to go back to sleep just to shut it off. But it’s even worse if I put that clock on sowing good things.

Good things will always reap good, eventually. If the motive is good, the results will be comparable. But I cannot predict what this “good” will look like. Sometimes, things get worse before they get better. Sometimes, the good we sow seems absorbed and lost. But, that is just perception. Good has a power, like energy, and cannot be destroyed. Good is love.

God is good. “Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.” [Mark 10:18b]
God is love. [I John 4:16b]

I believe our focus should be on the planting, the sowing, part of the equation. Plant love in the lives of others and good will grow. I have been too “results” oriented. I’ve been looking for harvest.

My kids are all teens and I keep crying over the mistakes their making in their lives, the false starts, the collapsing dreams. I’ve been counting on those early seeds to be bearing fruit already. And sure, in some cases, that’s how it happens. But now I’m thinking, they are still germinating. And instead of sorrowing over the slow growth, I should be planting more and more. No one has ever said that we’re supposed to sow and then sit around and wait for the reaping. That will come, in its good time.

More sowing. Nice and steady. Every day. Every day.

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I learned the enduring power of the sowing and reaping principle through Elijah House. But now I see there is an added piece to it: motive. Why I sow “whatever” makes a difference in the yield.

II Corinthians 9:6-7
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man [or woman] should give what he [she] has decided in his [her] heart to give not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver [sower].

Sowing is everywhere. It’s in the money I give, it’s in the words I say, it’s in the quality of my touch, it’s in my work and more. Reaping comes automatically, in one form or another and on its own timetable. And, significantly, reaping comes in multiples of a third, two-thirds or even 100% more than the original sowing [Mark 4:20]. Could it be that these multiples are determined by motive? How did I sow?

I think too many people think that “following the rules” is enough. And to some degree that is true. The doing of good works is good. But is it enough to do if it’s with an attitude of bitterness or unbelief? I am encouraged to give of our family’s plenty and tithe, let’s say, but if I give with a hard heart, I now think it nullifies the true effect of the gift. The return is stunted.

A dear friend told me this principle applies in the smallest of gestures, even cooking. She said I should never cook a meal in anger or resentment, for the meal itself will lose its flavor. It will still be food and nourish the body but it will not reap any other blessings.

This is the main reason Christ tells us to do everything in love. It is love that provides the “salt” to every gesture, to every word, to every intent.

Teach me to plant today with the humus of love.

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John 5:14
Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

So, here was this man who had a fantastic miracle happen! After years and year on a mat, waiting for the waters to stir at the Pool of Bethsaida, Jesus came and healed him. Later, the man sees Jesus again. Was he astonished that Jesus admonished him? And what was his sin? We are not told what it was in this story.

But this story made me think about sin. Do we assume that because he was an invalid that he no longer sinned? Or was there a greater sin earlier in his life before he became bed-ridden? The implication here is that sin brings disasters into our lives.

For me, sin is a conscious act that I know is wrong or hurtful or law-breaking (either legal or divine). Sin begins in the mind and then is acted upon. There must be a decision or choice to sin. The problem comes when we know longer realize the acts are sinful. If we keep on sinning in a particular way, it becomes the norm. But there was a moment, a day, a time when the choice was new. It is important to find that kernel in our past.

There are always consequences to our thoughts and actions, whether good or bad. The consequences may not be immediate, but we are kidding ourselves if we don’t think they will happen. It’s the law of sowing and reaping. There is only one way to break this law and that is by grace that comes through the cross of Christ.

But before I can call on the work of Christ to block the reaping of my sins, I must face the reality of my sins. I must identify the sin. I must call it for what it is. And then I can I ask for the power of the cross to stand between me and those consequences.

Make me conscious today, O Lord my God, that I might lay the truth at your feet.

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