A new year. Another year.
On Sunday evenings I open up an electronic device to see what appointments I must gather the strength for during the upcoming week.
I once scheduled activities, paced myself for fun events. My calendar was always full. Full equaled a sense of worth. Empty spaces were meant to be filled or I felt guilty that I was squandering opportunities.
As I filled up 2 weeks of my pill holders recently, I realized this is now how I measure the passing of time. Sometimes I look at those empty spaces in my pill holder, Monday . . . Tuesday . . . Wednesday. . . .and it’s hard to comprehend that it has just been a week. There are weeks when so much life is thrown at me to juggle.
Other times, as I fill my pill holder, I just see the monotony of my days. As I count out those pills of every color and shape I wonder What did I do this week? Did I do anything that has purpose? Why did I procrastinate on those things I dislike so much, forcing myself to face them again this week?
Life is rarely stagnant.
My illness alone is constantly changing. Its symptoms zig and zag, attempting to stay a step ahead of my knowledge and endurance. A locked up knee, a flare, an infection, can quickly fill the calendar for 12 hours, 24 hours. Sometimes a week . . . or months.
My calendar now appears to have a lot of white spaces, but these are designated for those whatever-life-throws-at-me moments.
I started homeschooling my son in October. The homeschooling community calls us “Emergency Homeschoolers” because we did not plan on homeschooling. I didn’t prepare, pray about it, do research, or join those mommy-homeschooler groups. I found myself driving home from the school with my son, who is old enough to sit in the front seat with me. And I told him how many times I had witnessed God answer my prayers in ways I hadn’t expected. I shared how every time I wanted something big in my life, God consistently gave me something else.
And he said, “Well, mom! I guess we are homeschooling.”
Homeschooling is affirmation about my theory of don’t-tell-God-what-you-don’t-want-to-do–because He will immediately sign you up.
Ahem. It’s a challenge.
I could share a million thoughts about this unexpected journey God placed me on, but I won’t today. Let’s just say it is like God is taking all of my typical routine and what-I-know-for-sure-confidence and throwing it up in the wind to see where it falls. And He may even add in a tornado in my world to make sure I am fully dependent on Him.
The scripture Psalm 126:6 caught my attention the other day in a new way.
The King James Version says, “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
The NIV leaves out the description of the seed–precious.
Oh! How vital that word precious is!
To be honest, I have moments of tears–I weepeth! I could have had more tears. . . in fact, it may have been a good idea, because I tend to stuff feelings down. I get too exhausted to deal with them. Who among us would choose to put ourselves in an emotional blender and push “ON”?
But yeah, my soul feels a bit bruised. It is well with my soul. . . God and I are on good terms. I am probably talking to Him now more than ever before. But it is a season of adjustment.
I am going forward in my days–sometimes weeping–and yet carrying precious seed.
My seed is in my son. My seed is in loved ones around me. My seed is in the homeless people I speak to about God and their disabilities.
My seed is in you–it is the reason I give so much of my time and my heart to Rest Ministries.
My seed is in God and my bold hope that He will work everything out the way He intends. He is already doing it.
And when I feel I am not doing enough, it is because I think of a dozen people a day I wish I had time or energy to send a card, make a call, return a text–plant a seed.
The John Gill Commentary explains that sowing seeds usually requires both art and skill. When it is done in the presence of tears, however, it is likely because people feel insufficient. The planter may weep as he sows for a variety of reasons, and He may have moments of doubt whether his seed-planting will yield a successful crop.
Consider your own life for a moment. . .
I will assume that like me, you have either shed tears, or you have come close to doing so. Maybe you are a “stuffer” like me because crying just isn’t convenient and will you all emotional and stuffed up and then you will have to deal with that. But when we look at this verse, we do have permission to cry. . .
Even while we are being obedient to God and hoping for a harvest–a harvest we may even have doubts about at times–we have permission to cry. None of us are perfect. If we feel like crying, it is likely because we have suffered disappointments, emotional heartaches, or physical pain.
So, sure, it’s easy to still have doubts that God is going to let our life go smoothly. I sometimes ask God, why would You not let me struggle over something else, when I know how much You love to use it?
And yet, don’t give up.
Don’t . . .
give . . .
Because, “[he] shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. .”
Even when we are doing what God wants us to do…
… even when we are wondering if we are really on the right path
… even when we question what God allows into our life
… even when we are bawling as we are being obedient and doing our best to carry that precious seed out to the field
… even when we are limping carrying that seed from the pain in our body, dropping the seed, forgetting where we put the seed, struggling to carry that seed, wondering how we are going to pay for the seed…
God has already promised us we won’t regret it.
We will one day come to a place in life when we are singing songs of joy. . . and we will need carts–maybe even semi trucks–to carry our blessings–without a doubt.
Did you catch that? He shall doubtless come again with rejoicing . . .
That is nearly a guarantee that we will see a glimpse of the way God has taken our efforts and multiplied them. We will see the miracles. We will see His hand on it all.
And we will rejoice so loudly, jumping up and down sharing about what God has done, people will look at each other with the is-she-for-real? look. We will be accused of being a Pollyanna. We will put exclamation marks all over our emails! We may even be asked to use our indoor voice. Or if you have a tween like I do, he will say “you are acting weird and freaking me out, mom.”
This verse is a promise I am clinging to right now.
Because that is what it is–a promise. I will one day look back at my past and–without a doubt–I will be singing songs of joy! And so will you.
This verse is an acknowledgement that (1) there will be tears; (2) we can keep doing God’s will even through those tears; (3) one day the tears will stop and we will see the results of all the days we turned to God and said, ‘Help me do this, Lord, because I cannot do it on my own.”
This theory pretty much goes against every business theory I have ever seen. I bet you cannot find a single business book that teaches how you can just cry your way through your performance and in the end your boss will give you a promotion and a raise. Donald Trump would be pointing his finger at me and saying, “You’re fired.”
It’s just not logical in our world. If this verse relied on what makes sense on earth, it could have been written this way:
“He who goes out to the fields, carrying the strongest, most expensive seed, that is genetically-guaranteed to multiply your crop, who carries a good attitude, years of experience and a college degree, a healthy and physically fit body, a Sowing Seeds For Dummies book, and plants the seed while listening to the audio book of How to Win Friends and Get Them to Work in Your Fields For Free, will return singing “I am the Champion” with trucks loaded with sheaves.”
But it doesn’t.
Is this verse about being productive and bearing fruit in our lives? Yes.
Does it say we must be successful, healthy, experienced, stiff-upper lipped, and living without pain (or wait for a cure that will stop the pain) in order to succeed?
It’s okay to cry when you are doing God’s work.
Now, I know the Bible is full of scripture that tell us how we can have that joy without the tears, how we can choose hope, how not to live in a state of focusing on the past or the negative. And yes, that is the way we can strive to live. We should be gracious for the grace and the gifts God has given us.
But will there be times when we have to just keep moving ahead, one day at a time, when the joy doesn’t come? Can we continue to plant seeds in the lives of our children, grandchildren, friends, loved ones, strangers–even when we are desperately sad, confused, hurting, grieving losses, or just plain tired? Of course!
My friends, thank you for opening up your heart to my post today. Thank you for the prayers that many of you send up on my behalf. I don’t know what I would do without them–except to say I know I’d really be a mess without them!
May we all continue to go forth, even though we weepeth, planting precious seeds. We can eagerly await God’s blessing that will come through the bounty of the crop that we watered. . . sometimes with our tears.
Lisa Copen is just trying to keep up with what God throws her way. She finds joy through illness by face-plant faith–falling on her spiritual knees a lot asking God to give her endurance. Her new book Refresh Me, Lord: Prayers for those with Chronic Illness just came out and she is trying not to get too excited that she has proof of getting something accomplished because pride comes before a fall and she has enough trouble staying vertical already. But if you want to be inspired in your walk with Jesus, if you want to talk to him about all the challenges of illness but you just feel too tired to start a sentence, order her book for some prayer-starters at RefreshMeLord.com.