I don't really even know how to begin this post. I am absolutely overwhelmed by God's goodness and faithfulness, and how He uses those around me and resources around me to continuously reveal Truth!
I have been slowly but surely working through Beth Moore's "Stepping Up" study. And God continues to use it to speak Truth over various areas in my life right now. And today was no exception.
The lesson I went through today focused on God's faithfulness. The illustration she used was one I am sure most of us have heard many times, about seeds being planted. But God used that to speak to my heart in great ways this morning.
Looking at Luke 8:11-15, we see that the seed is God's Word, and there are many different places that seed falls. Some nurture these seeds and others, destroy them. This is a great truth and one that many of us have heard, but what hit me was the story that Beth shared next. She tells about a trip she and her husband took to Africa and the absolute devastation that they saw related to malnutrition. At one point in the journey, their guide told them that one of the most frustrating things is that in some of the villages the people are given seeds to plant and grow food so that they can survive, but instead of planting these seeds, they eat them. Planting the seeds would mean they could have food that they so desperately need, but instead they eat the seeds on the spot.
That is an interesting story, but here is the application she drew to our lives. Many times we hear God's Word and it satisfies us instantly, but we don't apply it to our daily lives. We hear teachers, leaders, and pastors speak amazing truth from God's Word and instead of looking at how we can apply that truth to our life, we simply take it at face value and go on about our way. Then as we go through our week, we wonder why our lives don't have the freedom that we hear comes from being a Christ follower. Why are we not having a bigger influence on our family and friends? Why are we still struggling and not experiencing the victory God promises in His word?
It is the same reason that my flowers did not grow this summer...
When we bought our house I was so excited! It is our own place! If I want to paint I can paint, if I want to plant flowers I can plant flowers - and I even have the most perfect window boxes to plant them in! It's great! I was so excited! And in my excitement, decided that I was going to plant seeds in those window boxes that would grow into beautiful flowers!! Great in theory, but unfortunately I didn't take LIFE into consideration. Seeds need nurturing, I have always been pretty good with plants and I thought this would be no big deal! But at the time I was teaching in Shelbyville still so I was only at the house on Wednesday nights when I drove up after school and over the weekends. And while I was gone, Zeke was too busy to care for flowers, so a lack of nurturing lead to the death of these seeds.
The problem really boils down to the fact that I expected growth to take place and transformation to occur with out a practical plan for how that was going to happen. I just assumed that it would happen without me really having to work at it. But, the heat of summer came, and instead of showering those plants with refreshing water daily (and really even multiple times a day at some points) there was no hope of survival.
Even more serious than flowers to decorate the outside of my house is that fact that many of us do the same thing with the Word of God. We hear great truth, but we never take the practical steps of applying it to our lives. It is great in theory to forgive those who hurt you, but what does that look like for my life today? It is great to want to know and meditate on God's word, but how does that become the reality of my life? These things don't just happen, just like flowers don't just grow in window boxes without someone taking the time and the practical steps to care for them.
We have to have faith (absolute trust that God will make it happen) and patience (understanding that He will make it happen in His timing and His way). These things won't grow in our lives overnight! And when the process does get long and we do start to grow weary we have to understand that the best option is not to simply dig the seed back up and start chewing on it or throw it out (Beth Moore), but that we continue on in faith and patience.
Show us how to plant seeds, not simply eat them. No matter how difficult our situation, continue to help us tend the seeds You've given us to plant.
11Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. ~Luke 8:11-15
9And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up ~Galatians 6:9
12so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. ~Hebrews 6:12