Monday, October 6, 2008

Sowing and Reaping. . .

A couple of weeks ago I closed the season of street ministry. I created a final message flier for the neighborhoods explaining that the daylight is growing too short in the evenings and soon the weather will turn cold and wet making it difficult to minister on the streets of our city. In planning on how this street ministry would work, I had considered this interval between September and March as a season of rest, and rebuilding. . . a time or preparation for the next year, but it has been gnawing at me that this is not right. . .

I read in Genesis:

Genesis 8:22
While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

It's not said that God told Noah this. . . (v22) the LORD said in his heart. . .This was a thought directly from God's heart. The Lord divided time on the earth into cycles and these cycles will not end as long as the earth exists. That is His promise. He has given us two positions, two alternating states. It is not described as some kind of selector switch with lots of options. There are not multiple possibilities, but only two alternating positions. . . Seedtime and harvest are the first mentioned. As the first mentioned, significantly they apparently form the basis of everything else. . .The sowing, the exuberant, the prolific setting out of seed upon the earth in the hopes that some will find good ground and then the subsequent taking in of the fruit of the crop are the only two seasons mentioned.

Mark 4:26-29
And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; (27) And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. (28) For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. (29) But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

It is my responsibility to cast the seed in the season of sowing. I am to cast it on all types of ground. The sower sowed it on rocky ground and in thorny places. He threw it in places where he surely could have predicted that it wouldn't do well, but the sower was never criticized for sowing in difficult places. It isn't said that our job is to judge the soil. It is our job to sow where we find soil. Likewise, I have nothing to do with the germination or the pushing forth of the leaves or the flowering of the plant. . . he (I) knoweth not how. . .but our seed, the Word of God is viable. It is fertile and potent. It will bear fruit. It will not return void, without accomplishing God's purposes.

I have been casting seed into the ground, but what about the harvest?

Luke 10:2
Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.

I have tended to use this verse to signify that I can pray to God for more workers to assist in the work of His kingdom. I focused on the praying for more workers. I only looked at the asking for more laborers, but see what this verse does not say. It certainly does not say that it is the Lord of the harvest who does the harvesting. I believe the point Jesus is making is that the crop is bounteous and that we will surely need help in getting the crop into the storehouses, but it does not in any way absolve me (us) from the work of the harvest.

What farmer casts his seed upon his fields and then goes on vacation at harvest time? That would be worse than just foolishness, it would be criminally wasteful of resources and stupidity itself to have put all the work required into the planting and cultivation of the fields and then to leave the grain to rot right where it stands in the ill conceived hope that some one else would come along and do his gathering work for him. Now if his yield is so great that it is beyond his means to bring it in by himself then that is another scenario. We can only do what we can do. . .

Now in this season of harvest Mark 4:29 says that when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come. It is not a question of the calender. The only criteria is, "Is fruit brought forth?" After the seed is planted, is now fruit being produced on the plant? If there is fruit, then immediately is the time for the crop to be cut away from its attachment to the soil. It must be taken from its place of planting in the dirt and brought into the storehouse. It must be taken away from the open fields, away from the predators, away from the elements that would knock it down, trample it, devour it. . .destroy it.

Lots of wonderful metaphors here. All in all though, I have been only focusing on the sowing, and have given little thought to the reaping. . .I must change that.

I have made some wonderful friends over these months walking the streets. The week day evenings are not realistically available to me for ministry during this time of year, but my thought now is to concentrate upon the contacts I have made and to try to deepen and expand upon those who have shown signs of bearing fruit. I love to bake homemade bread. My idea right now is to spend Friday evenings making 5-10 loaves of bread and go into the neighborhoods and pass them out on Saturday mornings. Unlike the weekday evenings, I won't have any time pressure. I'm not trying to cast seed over blocks and blocks of the city. Realistically I only have maybe a dozen or so people in mind to focus upon. Maybe I can begin doing Bible Studies with some of them. . .I must do something to bring them in out of the fields. . .

I thank you God. . .
I love you my Lord. . .


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