Welcome to 2011! Today I want to start a series of posts on Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life. We are all at different stages of life. However, we can draw strength and hope from the promises of God's Word. Here are two of my favourite statements from the Bible ...
Jer.29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” NIV
Jeremiah's declaration was spoken in one of the darkest moment's of Israel's history. With God there is always hope, no matter what we may be going through. Paul's declaration teaches us that God desires to do a good thing in and through our lives. Even right now, He is working towards that. We can either help or hinder that work that He is doing in our lives.
Personal fruitfulness is not a result of luck or chance. It is not just for some special people. It is not about being born on the “right side of the tracks.” It is not something beyond your control. Imagine two farmers with two field side by side who are both given a barrel of seed.
The first farmer, let's call him Fatalistic Fred (with apologies to any readers by the name of Fred), decides that he will just let life happen and see what comes. He sleeps and plays and lets the seasons roll by. He never plans, never ploughs, never sows, never waters and therefore never reaps. But he hopes and wishes for a good harvest – for good times and great accomplishments. But they never happen.
The second farmer, let's call him Responsible Ralph, decides to actively pursue a dream in his heart – a bountiful harvest. He plans, ploughs the ground, sows the seed, then waters and fertilizes it. Through the seasons, his crops begin to grow and year by year he starts to reap the rewards of his efforts. There are good times and hard times. The storms and floods occasionally destroy but he perseveres. He lives to enjoy the work of his hands and the rewards of his labor.
As Fred looks on – he can potentially develop a number of attitudes: inferiority, jealousy and envy, criticism and a judgmental attitude, and even anger towards God at apparent favouritism. All of these attitudes are unreasonable and inappropriate. Fred could also have a harvest – maybe a different one – but a harvest of his own, which he could enjoy. So can you and I! Yet many people today are like Fred in various areas of their life and they develop attitudes like these as they look at others.
In life, we eventually reap what we sow and therefore we are ultimately responsible for the harvest in our life. Every choice has a corresponding reward or consequence. We cause our own effects in life by our choices and actions. Like a boomerang, who we are and what we do comes full circle.
We reap what we sow (seed produces after its kind).
We always reap after we sow (there is a delay).
We reap more than we sow (there is a multiplication).
Yes, there are many things beyond our control – the weather and the seasons! But there are many things within our control that are in fact our responsibility – what we do with what we’ve been given. Our responsibilities include: our relationship with God, our attitude and our outlook on life, our use of time, our thoughts and imaginations, our words, our friendships and our mentors, our responses to situations, difficult times and difficult people, and what we do with our skills, abilities and spiritual gifts (our career and ministry potential). We can also have a great influence on other areas of your life too including our family relationships and our finances.
Like Responsible Ralph, we can work the field that God has given us and plant seeds so that we reap a fruitful harvest for the benefit of others and the glory of God.
Tomorrow ... the principle of the seasons.