Episode 1. Planting the Seed
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Sometimes when you’re going through a bad patch – all you want is for it to get better. But actually, sometimes, what we need to do is to plant a good seed while we’re waiting. Can I ask you, …
Sometimes when you’re going through a bad patch – all you want is for it to get better. But actually, sometimes, what we need to do is to plant a good seed while we’re waiting.
Can I ask you, what do you want to get out of life? I mean when you stand back and survey the landscape called, “your life”, the highs and the lows, what are some of the things that you’d love to see there? Relationships, achievements, family, career, money, a promotion, holiday? We’re all different, but basically my hunch is that we kind of want the same sorts of things in life.
We want health and happiness and fulfilment and a sense of belonging and a sense that we’re needed, hope, a future. They’re the main things aren’t they? In a sense we want a harvest out of life, sure we expect to put in, sometimes we put in too much, other times not enough. But we want to get something out of life. Hmmm … a harvest!
Back to your life for a minute, your landscape, the things that you’re looking for – are they there? Are you reaping the harvest in your life that you’re really hoping for? And if not, why not?
I love going to lookouts, you get up high on a mountain somewhere and you look out over the hills and the valleys below and the green fields. There’s one in particular I have in mind that I love going to, it’s got these beautiful rolling green fields and you can see the ocean and the beaches in the distance. And yet if you look a little bit further you can see some great factory belching smog out into the atmosphere, and you can look over to the left and the sun will be shining over here and over to the right there’s a storm going.
It’s something really uplifting to look out at the good and the bad and the ugly, and it’s the same when we look at the landscape of life. When we stop and we get up on a vantage point and look across our lives, it’s like looking at this landscape from the lookout, all the bits and pieces.
Life’s like that landscape, there’s the good and the bad and the ugly and in some parts of our lives there’s sunshine, fabulous! And you look in another part of your life and there’s storm clouds and thunder and lightning and rain. All the different parts of life, family and how we feel inside, our contentment and security and the friends we have and the work we do, all those bits.
What do we want out of life? Peace, health, love, pretty basic things actually, and you look at that landscape and maybe in one or two areas those basic things can be missing.
You know what I’m talking about. Maybe marriage is not everything it’s cracked up to be; maybe work you’re so sick to death of it, it’s boring, the routine the humdrum; maybe inside you just feel a lostness or a downness that you don’t understand why. We go through these things, these are life, and they can happen right alongside, right in parallel with, right at the same time as the other good things.
I can be having a fantastic relationship with my wife and not enjoying my work, or visa versa. Or both of those are fine but one of our kids is having some trouble at the moment. We want to have good harvests in our life, but sometimes right now, it’s not what we want it to be. And before we can have a harvest we need to plant a seed.
There’s a great story, if you have a Bible you can read it later, you can go to Genesis Chapter 26, right at the beginning of the Bible. By the way if you don’t have one you can go to a website. Biblegateway is the website, and you can read all sorts of different translations of the Bible on-line, good website. Anyhow, you can read about it.
It’s a story of Isaac who was Abraham’s son, Abraham was the father I guess, of the nation of Israel. And Isaac was living in a place where there was famine and drought and he made some mistakes in his life that were exactly the same mistakes that his Dad, Abraham, had made.
Isn’t it the way sometimes, a chip off the old block? We pick up the good traits of Mum and Dad and we pick up, frankly, the bad ones too. And Isaac blew it! You know he hung his wife out to dry, which was what Abraham had done to Isaac’s Mum. And there’s a famine and there’s a drought in the land, and Isaac wants to run away.
He said, “Ah I’ve had enough of this, let’s go somewhere like Egypt, which is much better than this place that God’s got me at the moment.” But God said, “No actually I don’t want you to do that, I want you to stay because I’ve got a plan for you Isaac, and My plan is, even though there’s a drought going on, and even though you’ve made this huge blunder with your wife, I’m actually going to bless you in this place.
Now that’s easy for God to say, you know God is there in air- conditioned comfort in heaven and we’re down here in the drought and in the famine and in the mess right? And we can sometimes hear God say it, sometimes you’ll hear it through listening to a voice like mine, sometimes you’ll hear it by just sitting down and spending some time quietly with God.
And God says, “You know something I’m going to bless you, I know you can’t see it at the moment but I am going to bless you.” And I’ve felt, I’ve thought, “You know God that’s really easy for you to say but I just can’t see it at the moment, you know, my place is a mess you know, I just can’t see this blessing.”
Isaac wanted to run away and give up but he stayed, and not only did he stay but right in the middle of the drought he sowed some seed. It said, “Isaac sowed seed in that land,” that is in the land that God picked for him! And in the same year he reaped a hundred fold. A hundred fold!
Things weren’t going well; when things don’t go well for us what do we want to do? A – Give up; B – run away; C – bully the people around us into submission; D – all of the above, right? We kind of don’t feel like sowing good seed when things are not going well. But if you want a harvest we have to sow seed. It’s a basic principle of life, it’s a God principle, whatever you sow you reap. You sow good things, you reap good things, you sow bad things, you reap bad things, it’s not rocket science.
It’s not just in the Bible but its obvious to us all in life, I mean there might be a situation at work that you have with a colleague, I know that things can get really tense at work, I’ve experienced that, praise God I don’t experience it now, but I’ve been there.
I’ve seen how people get feral at work and want to rip each other apart, and when there’s anger at work, if we sow anger what do you reckon we’re going to reap? Anger. On the other hand when there’s anger and tension at work what if you and I sow peace, what if you and I sow blessing, what if you and I sow kindness? What are we going to reap then?
What if amidst the feralness of work we sow a seed of gentleness? What’s the harvest going to look like then? Can it be any worse than what it would have been if we’d have sown anger?
If there’s some part of our marriage that’s unhealthy how does it go when we sow criticism within the marriage? Come on wives, how does it go when you peck, peck, peck at your husband? Does he respond well? Does it do it for him? Does he become better when he gets hen-pecked? Not on your Nelly! He closes down, he pushes away.
When there’s tension in a marriage what if we sow anger? Well, we’re going to get anger back. Now let me ask you, what if we sow unconditional love? What if we sow kindness and gentleness and intimacy?
Sowing and reaping is blindingly, glimpsingly obvious, it’s one of God’s basic principles of life. There’s a time for sowing seed and there’s a time for harvesting. It’s at natural as night following the day. And when we look back at our lives, when we look back at the landscape of our lives the bits that aren’t working at the moment we just want there to be a harvest in there without there being a seed time.
But harvest comes from planting seeds, and sometimes we have to plant seeds in a drought, in a famine. Yes it’s a big risk, yes we don’t always feel like it, but the God I know is a God of blessing. He lets us travel through stuff, he lets us wear the consequences but He is a God of abundant blessing. Not some sugar daddy but one that involves us in the blessing.
That’s why He has seed time, it’s our bit, it’s our faith step. When we plant the seed in the middle of the famine, God comes along and says, “You know something, you obeyed me. You honoured me, I’m going to bless you.” In the midst of the famine, Isaac planted seed in that land, and the same year he reaped a hundred fold. A hundred fold!