John Wimber's Missouri roots showed, at times, in the way he applied down home wit to church leadership and Christian growth. "You've gotta dance with who brung ya'", he'd say, or "You've gotta service what you sell." The Apostle Paul was no stranger to pithy sayings either. Witness the following "farm-fed" observation from Galatians 6: 7:
"...a man reaps what he sows".
Get it? If you so corn, you don't reap sweet peas and if you sow squash you don't reap tomatoes. You get more of whatever it is you've been planting. Period.
But here's the rub. We really DON'T seem to get that (maybe that is why the verse begins with the words: "Do not be decieved"). We seem to believe that we can sow one kind of seed and harvest something entirely different. After all, haven't we been working hard in the fields? Don't we deserve a reward for our labors? Yes. But in what fields have we been sowing and what kinds of seed have we been planting? This is one arena where life, it seems, really can be that simple.
Over the past nine years since my wife's devastating car crash, I have witnessed this principle at work in Robin. She (who had been brain-injured in the wreck) began to flirt with the idea of finishing her Bachelors Degree in Nursing via an intense, accelerated program that would require her to drive great distances, make new relationships, take on college-level coursework and much, much more.
At one point, she hesitated. Maybe she was too old to take this on. Maybe it was just too much. I encouraged her to go for it, reminding her that two years later she would be two years older (Lord willing) either with a degree in her hand or without one. Either way, she would spend two years sowing to something. To her credit, she pushed through, got to work, and reached the finish line with her degree in hand. Now, she's at it again -- this time at the graduate level as she works to complete her MSN degree while holding down two 12 1/2 hour shifts at the hospital as a nurse, teaching nursing students on the Labor and Delivery floor as an adjunct professor, and fulfilling the many hours or being mentored by her proctor at yet another hospital (part of her degree requirements). Meanwhile, she remains committed to me, our kids, and the rest of her life.
Robin has not sown to her limitations, but to her possibilites. She has not sown to her victimhood, but to her survival. She has not sown to her setbacks, her injuries or her losses but to her dreams and her call from God to be a Nursing Instructor or CNS. And the firstfruits are already appearing. There's no magic here, she's just reaping what she has been sowing.
Of course, in writing to the Galatians, Paul was seeking to apply the principle of sowing and reaping to the different harvests that come from seed sown to "the flesh" (the base desires of our nature) versus the Spirit (the transformational work of God's Spirit in our lives). We can't sow to the flesh and expect "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit". Nor can we sow to the Spirit and expect Him to leave us alone -- unchanged, stagnant and unchallenged. But one thing is for sure: every day we are sowing to either one or the other. Tomorrow's harvest will reveal which one.
Now, life is not "fair". Sometimes a farmer's well-tended field gets flooded or drought-stricken despite his best efforts and hard work. That's real life in the real world. But one thing we can count on (Paul reminds us): we will reap what we sow (in the end) and feed our souls -- and our futures -- from that harvest.