Whether you’re reflecting on 2017, planning for 2018, or are in the thick of the small beginnings here and now- aren’t we all, just a little bit, some way or another?! I pray that your heart is encouraged by this post. As promised on my instagram stories, I’m sharing more about how the seeds we sow matter and how they can help to reap a harvest and good fruit. I was humbled and encouraged in my business last week, but also was reminded to not despise the small beginnings, but rather rejoice in each little step, each interaction, relationship built and opportunity to serve.
I also recently had the joy and privilege to speak at a group of local high school students with FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). I shared about sowing/planting and reaping a harvest, referencing many pieces of scripture to help illustrate these ideas. I talked through Hosea, Galatians and 2 Timothy— how being devoted, disciplined, committed can help reap and bring about a harvest. This has been so evident in my own life, as I have started my own business in the last several months. A lot of small beginnings, trusting God, and staying encouraged along the way. Any goal, dream, vision, or desire that God has placed on our hearts takes devotion, discipline and commitment to cultivate seeds that lead to a harvest, bearing fruit. It takes time, there are many challenges along the way, but the harvest is always worth it. It's in the small beginnings that we learn so much, we grow, and God is glorified, pleased and rejoices.
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin - Zechariah 4:10
I am not sure if you are familiar with the book of Hosea. It's a book in the Old Testament, written by Hosea, a minor prophet—a story to illustrate God’s redeeming love for Israel and sinful people. It’s a love story between Gomer and Hosea, filled with brokenness, adultery, but ultimately redemption. There is a lot of imagery about plowing, sowing and reaping through out the book of Hosea—well really also laced through out the bible— in parables in the Gospels and other passages, some of which we will talk through. In Hosea chapter 8 it talks about how Israel was sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind. Lord, help me to see where I’m sowing things of the wind, I don’t want to reap a whirlwind! I want to sow meaningful, good seed, things with intention, kingdom things, and reap good fruit. In chapter 10 we are advised to sow for ourselves righteousness & reap the fruit of mercy & unfailing love. Yes, I want this sort of sowing & reaping, dont you?!
“Sow with a view to righteousness [that righteousness, like seed, may germinate]; Reap in accordance with mercy and lovingkindness. Break up your uncultivated ground, For it is time to seek and search diligently for the LORD [and to long for His blessing] Until He comes to rain righteousness and His gift of salvation on you.” -Hosea 10:12 AMP
Just as a plowed field is prepared, ready to receive seeds, our own rocky, hardened hearts need to be plowed and ready for God to work. Throughout Hosea the Lord begs that we return to Him, he alone revives, restores, refines and ultimately redeems. Search for Him diligently. He’s after our hearts. “The story of Hosea & Gomer reminds us that sin never satisfies, only JESUS does.” -Kristin Schmucker. Galatians encourages to sow to please the spirit and reap eternal life, shifting our focus to an eternal perspective. Paul also tells us to not grow weary in doing good, to keep planting that good seed—being discisplined, devoted, committed, knowing we work for the Lord and are working for an eternal purpose.
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” -Galatians 6:7-9
Continuing on with being disciplined, devoted and committed, in 2 Timothy 2:1-7 we see a picture of three different roles- soldier, athlete, farmer- and how they sow good seed, the character traits developed:
"You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.” - 2 Timothy 2:1-7
The Soldier: Devotion & Faith. Our life is a battleground, to live well, we must hold fast to our faith and be willing to lay our lives down, as Jesus did. We have to engage in the world, but don’t get caught/distracted, rather be be transformed by the renewing of your mind, devoted to Jesus (Romans 12:2).
The Athlete: Discipline driven by Love- desire to win. We have to set goals, driving us towards the discipline to achieve them. In that, we have to play according to the rules—in the faith walk, running a race, live within God’s parameters- obedience to his word. What is a goal you have in personal, in business, a dream, or in family? Are you disciplined, sowing good seed to reap a harvest? In the case of an athlete, training in the office season, going all out in practice, even if you don’t get to play, supporting your team, being a light to an opponent. What are you doing each day, one step at a time, to get you you closer to your goal?
The Farmer: Commitment, what we Hope for. Commitment is directly connect to the hope. In the farmer's case, the hope is to produce crop and provide for family. He sows good seed, hoping to produce fruit and a harvest. We have a covenant relationship with Jesus in all seasons we should be committed in the valleys, hard times, and the joys and good times. What is the fruit you are bearing from your commitment and hope in Jesus?
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” -Galatians 6: 9
The small steps, little seeds add up. I am slowly starting to see fruit in my business, last week was so humbling and praiseworthy for how God was moving. It was just this reminder to not despise those small beginnings. I'm still in the small beginning, but God is moving and leading the way. I'm building and cultivating relationships that are leading to business that I can only praise God for.
So, I leave you with this, what are you sowing and reaping? What are your small beginnings and are you going to God to partner with Him in this? Examine your heart—see what needs to be plowed, where are there uncultivated areas? Are there ways you need to be more devoted, disciplined and committed—to Jesus, to your team/ work, to your friends, family etc. Examine your life—what you are sowing and what you are reaping and how might God be nudging you to shift, and to keep all of it with an eternal perspective. I know I don’t want to sow of the wind and reap a whirlwind, sow for ourselves righteousness & reap the fruit of mercy & unfailing love. When we work towards a goal, we plant seeds along the way, we have to tend to them, and be sure our heart is in the right place in order to reap a harvest. It’s never too late to return to the Lord and plant seeds of meaning.
Also, how cute is this little coffee shop?!! After my teaching I spent some time in the word, reviewing my goals and catching up on work emails at a new local coffee shop called Gathering Grounds- Love their heart and mission! If you are ever near Indian Lake/ Russells Point, OH, I encourage you to check it out!