Folks who know me, know I am a country boy. Though we have moved around a lot over the years, we really like a rural setting. Having a small garden helps me in many ways; provides good therapeutic exercise; presents a continuous lesson in sowing and reaping; and teaches patience, waiting on the harvest. These are applied life-lessons.
Finally, I planted the last few rows in the garden over the weekend. It has been a struggle. I could blame it on the weather, my schedule, or maybe it's because I am getting older and slower in 'getting the job done'.
Nevertheless, I have been reminded several times, while working in the garden, about the parallels to sowing the Gospel seed in the community. It is much like the Parable of the Sower. (Matt. 13/Luke 8) Remember some seed fell on hard ground (no response); some seed fell on shallow ground (a little response at first, then 'goodbye'); but some seed fell on fertile soil and soon they were sprouted and growing. And the sower keeps on sowing, planting, cultivating and watering - knowing the harvest will come in due time.
This reminds me of William Carey, the father of modern missions. He labored in India for more than seven years before one person embraced the Christian faith. Often he was discouraged, but he never gave up trusting - for he had the Prize Seed and he was sowing them in fertile soil. Once a few believers stepped forward, there were others soon to follow. Soon believers were responding at every preaching and teaching points. Through Carey's efforts the culture in India was forever changed. Sowing, believing a harvest would come, trusting the promises of our Lord! And they came!
A friend in Eastern Europe had the same problem -sowing and sowing, but little harvest. Like Carey, it took seven or more years to see any positive results. He was almost ready to say "enough". But after a stateside leave, he returned to a people ready and open to the Good News; the gospel seed had grown to the harvest stage and gathering time had come. That summer a number of youth responded to Christ during a week of mountain camping.Today there are several pockets of believers sowing in their own way, in their own "gardens".
Just like in our gardens, we cannot force the Gospel Seed to spring forth and produce fruit upon demand. Those squash and beans have a gestation period that cannot be rushed. Even so, God, in His own timing, will bring about the harvest if we are faithful to properly sow seed, cultivating, weeding and watering them as needed. We do know one thing - unless we plant we cannot expect a harvest. That is true in gardening, but it is also true in sharing the gospel. Good gardening methods, like witnessing tools, do produce harvest in due time.
These are perfect days to plant. May the Lord find us busy sowing gospel seed, praying with expectancy that a bountiful harvet is on its' way.