Planting is hard work
A farmer invests huge amounts of money, time, energy and thought to planting. He must get his equipment in good repair, making numerous trips for parts or purchasing updated machinery. He must get his soil in proper condition — tilling corn stalks, applying fertilizer, and perhaps putting in tile for better drainage. He must purchase sacks of seed and spend hours planting, paying attention to fences and drainage markers and the weather.
All this hard work is expended in hope — hope of a harvest. In some parts of the world, hope is almost foolish. The soil is depleted. The rains often do not come. The farming methods are outdated. For all his effort, the farmer may receive little more than his seed. In our part of the world hope is well repaid. Year after year the rains come, the soil does its wonders, and a marvelous harvest results. Farmers do not have to worry about putting food on the table. They toss and turn about paying for a piece of equipment that costs $100,000.
Spiritual planting is also hard work.
A church invests huge amounts of money, time, energy and thought to planting each year. We build buildings and mow the lawn. We implement youth programs. We invite neighbors. We hold services at nursing homes. We visit jails. We send out missionaries to places near and far. We practice Sunday’s music and put the week’s message on the radio. We devise a catchy saying for the church sign. We haul kids to camp.
All this hard work is expended in hope — hope of a harvest. In some parts of the world, hope seems almost foolish. The people are hostile. They actually persecute or even kill those who bring the gospel. Some, who make a profession of faith, recant when family and friends shun them. Others have to go into hiding to preserve life or to keep their children from being taken away. In our part of the world, of course, hope is well repaid. Year after year people come to Christ. Children come. Grown-ups come. Seniors almost at death’s door come. We plant and water and weed. God gives the increase.
The difficulty of spiritual planting lies in the nature of the harvest. Corn planted in spring is harvested the same year in the fall. Spiritual seeds planted in a human heart might not germinate for years. The sower may never see the results of his efforts. People move away. (I’ve never seen a corn stalk go to college or drive to Chicago for a new job.) Yet the power of the gospel seed is actually stronger than any yearly crop we might seek. While we are not guaranteed 100 percent germination, the rate is far higher than any of us expect.
Do you hope in the harvest? Have confidence in the Lord of the harvest? The seed is good, very good. The seed sprouted in you. Will it not sprout in many others through you? “In due season we will reap.” (Galatians 6:9)