This morning I've been thinking about a verse that I occasionally run across in my devotions. It's a challenge and a promise and it has so many applications.
Ecclesiastes 11:6 "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good." KJV
Sometimes as a mom/wife/friend/Christian/educator/blogger/etc., I get discouraged that what I do doesn't really make that much difference. I clean, cook, teach, instruct, correct, love, respect, share, manage...try to do all the things it takes to be what God has called me to, and somedays, I feel like I could have just knocked on a brick wall for all the good it did.
And yet, this verse says I should sow the seeds both morning and evening - basically do the work all day - because I can't know which little seed is going to grow and prosper! (And, don't miss the end of the verse that says that they might ALL be good!)
Christian parenting (good parenting in general) has to take on an eternal perspective - you never know what little tidbit of teaching or example is going to stay with that kiddo through all the hard times and bring him back if he strays.
In marriage, that random wink or home-cooked meal may be the key to his heart.
In friendship, a listening ear or a hand out of the pit of threatening depression, even just a smile can change a person's day, month, year, life!
In ministry, in work, in writing, in all areas — it's not the Miracle Grow that makes the seeds grow, it's the planting in the first place! Not only that, but a good gardner doesn't assume that every single seed she plants is going to prosper. Sometimes you plant 10x more seeds than you actually need plants because some seeds don't take or some seedlings don't survive because of weather or birds or other creatures (See the Parable of the Sower, Matthew 13), and then there's the thinning process to make sure that the best plants get all the room, sun, and nutrients they need. It's a tedious process, planting. But it can be mysterious and exciting, too.
What about those other little things you do? Remember that Operation Christmas Child box filled with inexpensive little toys and everyday hygiene items? No big deal for us, really. But what if, just what if, that child who wouldn't otherwise have a Christmas gift receives our box and the Gospel message about God and a Christ who loves and died for him? And what if that child accepts Jesus as Savior and grows to become a missionary and pastor to his own people? And what if thousands and millions get saved as a result of that one Christmas gift?
And then, what if we didn't send it...?
While the Christian life isn't meant to be lived full of conjectures, God does send us and Romans 10:13-15 poses the problem that if people are to call on God, they must first believe; to believe, they must hear; to hear, someone must share. Yes, as mothers, wives, friends, etc. we have our first responsibility to the domain in which we are placed. But we are also called to all nations. Thankfully, in this age of internet and electronic communication, living globally is easier than ever. The world is shrinking. (My dear sister-in-law Rachel has an amazing world vision, and she captures the imagination of those around her and challenges me on a regular basis to expand my thinking about the peoples far away from me.)
So, here's a grand challenge:
Become a constant gardener. (No, not like the movie I've never seen). Maybe the seeds you sow are acorns and you'll never see the mighty oak that develops long after your life is over. Maybe the seeds you sow are for radishes that spring up immediately and offer quick rewards. And maybe that seed you planted will be stored away and not germinate for over 2,000 years until properly cared for and nourished to become a truly viable plant (true story!!)!
Can you sow seeds of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and faith? Can you do it all day, every day? Yeah, me neither... At least not on my own — I've been failing a LOT lately. Practically speaking for me, the seeds I sow are ones of patience and gentleness with my children, peace and love with my husband, goodness and faith with my friends, and joy to all who see me. It means changing the eighth dirty diaper of the day without complaint. It means going to the trouble of cooking that yummy meal for my family, smiling at the hard-working person at the check-out line, putting a little extra in the bucket of the bell-ringer outside the craft store. It may even mean a bit of sacrifice of time, money, energy, or self-indulgence.
Isaiah 55:11 reminds us that God's Word will not return void and that He will cause it to prosper in the time and way that He chooses. And really, isn't He the ultimate gardener, what with being the Creator and all?
PS This post took a drastically different turn than what I thought I was going to post about. It's times like this that I think there may be a reason for that. I'll get back to that other one another day. :-)
Linking up here:
Women Living Well
Raising Mighty Arrows
Our Simple Country Life
Time Warp Wife