Saturday, May 31, 2014

Harvesting






We hear a lot about sowing and reaping. Or bringing in a  harvest of what we've planted. With this is a reminder of how our words will come back to us. Those bitter thoughts grow weeds of discontent. Anger and resentment pollinate our lives with pain.

What goes around comes around. You reap what you sow. Instant karma's gonna getcha.

For me, though, this concept can be discouraging. While I try to be kind, think good thoughts, give people the benefit of the doubt and be gracious, I'm not always good at that. And though I think I'm doing better at it with age (read trial and error) this concept would have me counting out the good seeds from the bad seeds. The idea of every bad word being a weed and every good word being a fruit-bearing tree is nice, until I realize that there were a lot of weed planting words and actions in my youth, and still today. And no amount of penitent fruit planting can undo the damage if it's a game of you get what you give.

Thankfully, that's not the whole story. And this is what I really love about the Gospel in the Bible: We are invited to cross into a promised land of God's grace and reap fields that we didn't plant, dwell in houses we didn't build and enjoy the blessings we didn't fight to earn.

Just like the Israelites who crossed the Jordan, whose violent waters were held back from them by the covenant of God (the Priests with the ark walked into the rushing waters, which drew back from them and they stood in the middle of the river till everyone had passed through), I have been saved from the wrath of God, which I deserve and have been brought to the land of promise.

The turbulent high waters of the Jordan represent God's judgment that separates us from His provision. And on that side of the Jordan, we will reap what we sow. We boast, grumble, complain, spurn God, we get humbled, punished and die in the wilderness.

But on the other side of the Jordan, crossing through by faith but under the complete work of God's grace that holds back the waters, we enter into a land where we might still grumble. We might still doubt God. We might still want to do things our way.

Despite our weakness, we're on a path in the promised land, not the wilderness. We're carried along by God, who has promised this land to us. He has promised that we will reap fields we didn't plant.

That's the surpassing beauty of God's provision. So many think God is like a genie who is there to grant our wishes. They complain that "if God loves me, why hasn't he given me ..." Whatever.

Maybe the real question is, "If you loved God, why don't you humble yourself and follow His rules for living?" Perhaps our suffering is, in fact, that we're reaping the crops of our sin.

But it doesn't need to be that way. If we admit that we're without excuse, without hope on our own and go to God who is our water in the desert, our food every day, our only resource for our souls, we'll find the waters of the Jordan are still parted and waiting for us to cross. And they'll remain open so long as there is one of His children running to cross.

Once on the other side, God's blessings are far greater than wealth in this world. They are peace with God and inside, love that surpasses a fast-burning passion, joy that exults during hard times, faithfulness that holds steady during the dark hours of trial, gentleness in conflict, patience in long watches of expectation, goodness that flows to those who desperately need some.

There isn't a wealthy person alive who, at the end of his or her life, wouldn't trade every penny for the list of inner treasures that God has given to His children. He gives them to each according to the measure of their faith as they move in to possess the land, following the path of Christ, who wins the victory over all the illegitimate occupants of the land.

That's why I follow. I have been given a wonderful gift that has broken the chains and freed me from reaping what I've sown. No, I'll be harvesting from fields planted for me by my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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