I recently bought a bracelet like this from Redeemed Jewelry.
I’m so forgetful these days that wearing scripture, or something that reminds me of a promise, is like having a note safety-pinned to my shirt as I come home from school.
This one is based on a passage from Habakkuk 3:
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
My grandmother had the most beautiful flower gardens. Everything came alive under her touch. We would even pick mint leaves from her front yard for iced tea in the summer.
My grandfather farmed hundreds of acres of land throughout his life, producing enough food for our home, neighbors, church family or to contribute towards the community turnip green supper.
On the other hand (mine with the black thumb), I recently killed a small fern after I failed to water it at the roots like the lady at the farmer’s market told me to do. I’m pretty sure I poured water over the top and now the poor thing looks like a few brown twigs stuck in a dainty pot of dirt.
Thankfully, there is one peace lily from my brother’s funeral that is still green and lively after two years, but I suspect that is due to the Amazing Grace bow that is still tied around the basket. It’s clearly anointed.
I do love plants and flowers, but they don’t seem to love me. Maybe I dump too much on them at once and overwhelm the delicate root system.
Honestly, it’s kind of like that with the gospel, too.
For almost a year now the Lord has been leading me through the most incredible and unexplainable journey that all started with water from a well.
The water references continued for several months and were soon joined by these topics: sowing, plowing, pruning, harvest, soil, bearing fruit, abiding in the vine…and on and on and on.
These came to me in verses, sermons, Bible studies, songs, devotions, random people, road signs, and even a scripture reference during an episode of Law and Order!
Month after month I get a little more, but I still don’t know where it’s leading. Until today, when I had a small sprout appear.
Over the last few weeks I’ve spent hours reading books, reading my one-year Bible, listening to sermons and transferring much of what I had gleaned to tiny note cards and my journal.
The note card idea was one shared by a friend on social media, where she had written prayers and scripture for friends and family as Christmas gifts. I ordered a set from Amazon and started making my own.
The first few I gave away were special moments for me. It feels like you’re giving a piece of your heart when you invest spiritually in someone’s life and present them with God’s Word, personalized prayers and words that speak life and love.
One passage that came to mind as I made the cards was from Acts chapter 3:
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong.
He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
I don’t have a lot of money, but I can tell you about the greatest gift ever. It can make you walk away, jumping and praising God, too.
The gift of prayer…the gift of God’s word…the gift of intercession…
It’s what I have to give “in the name of Jesus Christ,” because I love you. It’s the most powerful and personal thing we can give to anyone, but it makes you vulnerable.
So, the word that comes to mind when I had no response or even a thank you for my handmade gift is crestfallen.
Of course, like most women, it came time to analyze the whole situation and question if I should ever extend my heart to anyone if there was no return on the investment.
Maybe they thought it was cheap or corny and not the heartfelt, made-me-cry-when-I wrote-it gift that I had intended.
Then, I had a conversation with the Lord that went something like this:
“Did you make these gifts with the hope of getting attention?”
Well…no, not really.
“Did you make these gifts to sow seeds of love, hope, prayer, faith, and righteousness?”
“Did you make these gifts to encourage them?”
“So, what’s the problem?
They didn’t say anything about it. I am not even sure they read through it.
“My word does not return void.”
<insert shameful, blank stare from me at the truth of these words>
Okay. I understand. It’s not about me or if I see the fruit or harvest from my labor of love. Did I really just use the phrase “return on investment?” Sorry.
“Just sow the seeds.”
Right. I can’t dump water (or the Word) on their heads. Some people can’t hear it all at once. Some people don’t even want to hear it from me. Some hearts are not even plowed up yet.
“Just sow the seeds.”
This is why:
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything,
but only God, who makes things grow.
The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose,
and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.
For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
1 Corinthians 3:6-9
There are many examples in the Bible where people never saw the harvest. They followed and obeyed God by faith, and not by expectation of a response, a result, or an ROI.
I have learned a hard lesson over the last ten years about what it means to plant a garden, sow the seeds, and then repeatedly go to the window to see what has grown.
- When you see a row that barely breaks the surface…
- When you see a row that starts to grow, but the next week it is withered and brown…
- When you see a row that gets mixed up with weeds and you can’t tell the difference between the two…
- When you see the birds steal away what was planted…
- When you see a row that has a small, green leaf or bloom…
The whole garden was supposed to be full of beautiful wildflowers.
But, that was my dream. The Lord reminded me of another verse He gave me last year, so I can keep the garden in perspective and not elevate myself to expert gardener. He knows that on my own, my black thumb (my old nature) cannot grow anything apart from Him. He alone can make things grow.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
The Lord is so kind to gently set us straight when we begin to question how quickly the fruit is being produced.
I might occasionally look out the window, but what’s been planted isn’t really up to me anymore.
There’s still a lot of ground to cover while there is still time. The verse just before Isaiah 55:8 says, “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.”
So, I must be determined to not grow weary as Galatians 6:9 instructs, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest.
Even if the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines.
Even if the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food.
I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
THE SOWER’S SONG – Andrew Peterson
PLANTING TREES – Andrew Peterson
There was another special verse from 2018 that started it all. You can’t grow anything without first preparing the soil…maybe even of your own heart.
Sow with a view to righteousness,
Reap in accordance with kindness;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the Lord
Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.
Copyright 2019 Keysha Thomaston