Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sow, Reap, & Don't Grow Weary

Life is short.  Fleeting.  We forget that on a day-to-day basis.  We go about our busy lives, making seemingly trivial choices smattered with a few major decisions & forget that - in a flash - it will all be over.  Every now & then, we're confronted by this reality, & then we have to take stock of our lives, particularly how we're choosing to live them.

Today was one of those days for me.  It's been brewing for a little more than a week, ever since a dear old saint in our congregation died suddenly.  We haven't been there very long, so didn't know him terribly well, but we already loved him.  He was just that kind of man.  The unexpected nature of his passing has given me pause many times over the past week as I've reflected on my relationships.  "None of us are guaranteed tomorrow, or even the next 5 minutes" is a mantra that has taken on new meaning for me.  It can be wearying, living with this realization ever before me.  Last night, I lay in bed talking to God & acknowledging that - unless He takes me home first - I am going to live to see a lot of people that I love die.  There is comfort in knowing that, if they're Christians, they'll be with God.  But that doesn't take away the grief while I live without them.  Honestly, that scares me, knowing that I may have to feel that intense pain of loss again.  Ginger is awful enough; to think of losing my mother or husband . . . I shudder at the thought.

I pray that God will keep me faithful, & that as He strips away the things that I hold dear in order to bring me closer to Him, that I will count Him as more valuable, that I will love Him more.

Even so, being confronted with losing those we love is just one thing that can wear us down & make us lose heart.  Sometimes the pain of this life can be unrelenting, & we can wonder what it's all for.  But Paul admonishes us:

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."  (Galatians 6:9)

Do not give up, for we will reap!  Did you catch that?  We will reap.  Not maybe, or perhaps.  No, we will reap, of that we can be sure.  However, as our pastor pointed out, there is one condition.  We will reap what we sow.  We have a choice in this life as to what we sow, & - as we all know - whatever we sow is what we will reap when it's harvesting season.  We can sow to the flesh - & reap corruption (a.k.a., death) - or we can sow to the Spirit & reap eternal life.  You don't sow corn & reap watermelons.  Nor should we fool ourselves into thinking that we can sow to the flesh, living any way we want, & reap a godly harvest.  It just doesn't work that way.

You know how it is, how you can hear something a hundred times, & then all of a sudden something fresh occurs to you?  That's what this verse was like for me today.  It was like a light went off inside my brain & illuminated my life in an instant.  I looked at the ways that I spend my days & received a reality check.  As I go throughout my day, am I sowing to the flesh or to the Spirit?  Am I living to please myself or to please God?  Am I furthering my own kingdom of comfort & self-indulgence, or am I furthering His kingdom by sharing the good news of His Son & ministering to others, bearing their burdens in love?  For me, the question isn't so much a matter of "do I ever do these godly things?", but rather "which encompasses most of my time?".  I don't like the answer.

Now, I don't want to leave the impression that I can earn my salvation, or even earn God's favor.  Christ did that when He died for me on the cross.  I am God's child, & He loves me.  But, because I am His child, my life should bear His mark.  People should be able to look at me & see my Father.  My life should diverge from the world & its ways.  How that works out in your life will most likely be very different from how it works out in mine.  But we all must take that time to inspect our lives & see whether it matches up with what we claim.  And rely on Him to help us when it doesn't.

God, help us to be Your people, Your light in a dark world, & not grow weary in doing good.  Help us to sow to the Spirit & reap eternal life, all the while not banking on our "good deeds" to save us.  Help us rely on Your power & strength, ever confident in Your love for us through Your Son.  In Christ's holy name I pray, Amen.