A friend of mine hosts Monday Manna – an opportunity to meditate on a verse of scripture and share our thoughts with others.
“He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:6.
I remember the event, not the specific day or year, or the person’s name or the exact conversation. I was living in Cyprus at the time, working in a small faith school in Limassol on the south coast. Many of my friends were from various missions working, not so much directly in the mission field, but providing administration support for colleagues working in the Middle East. Being surrounded by missionaries, but not being one myself, I suppose they rubbed off on me. Talking to people about my faith seemed much easier out there.
I remember that you had to be careful about who you spoke to. The Cypriot government allowed the missionary organisations to base their administration in Cyprus, but they were told very firmly that they were not to evangelise the Cypriots. As far as they were concerned the Greek Orthodox Church was the country’s denomination so they were Christians anyway.
The conversation I had took place one evening. I can’t imagine how it began, but I was talking to a man. I have a feeling he might have been really down on his luck and asking me for money. Although I was teaching, I didn’t have a teacher’s wage, but was supported by my church back home. I was struggling to make ends meet. I told him that I had nothing I could give and I told him why. I shared my testimony with him and I shared my faith.
I saw it in his eyes that he thought I was stupid. There was no light dawning, no faith ready to be ignited – he took nothing on board.
I went to a friend’s house and told her everything that had happened – and then I burst into tears. Mostly I was crying for myself because it seemed to prove that I was a useless witness and I would never get to chance to carry sheaves to Jesus. Some of the crying was for the man that he had not listened. He hadn’t taken the chance to see more of God. He was on the path to hell.
My friend quoted the verse from Psalms and together we prayed for the man, and my words, that they would produce a harvest.
I was reading yesterday, or the day before, the events in Isaiah 6. If ever there was a man who had cause to weep as he sowed it was Isaiah. When God had asked, “Who shall I send? And who will go for us?” Isaiah put his hand up and volunteered. God sent him to a nation where they were not going to pay any attention to his words. They put fingers in their ears. They closed their eyes and they turned their back. There were going to be no altar calls, no hundreds and thousands coming to faith.
What is not to mourn about a God’s Good News being ignored? It is almost worth not carrying the seed to sow if you think there will be no harvest.
But God’s promise is he, the sower, “will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves…”.
It brings to mind The Parable of the Sower. No one likes to think that the seed they sow falls on the path to get eaten by birds, or on to rock to spring up swiftly with no roots, or choked by weeds – some of the seed does – but not all of it. Some of the seed falls into the good soil and bears a harvest.
I am challenged by the phrase “carrying seed to sow”. Do I have a word of encouragement or a testimony that I can share with a friend, or a stranger? Or do I have an empty pocket and nothing to give.
Sometimes we divide our lives into segments – this is church, this is supermarket shopping, this is the school run. We have a pocket full of seed for church meetings and church related activities. When it comes to other aspect of life our pockets are full of other stuff – car keys, tissues, loose change – but not seed.
I think we all need to be carrying seed and carrying it with the intention of sowing it – listening to the Holy Spirit directing is to the good ground that He had prepared.