Thursday, January 01, 2009

Being Fruitful and Multiplying Greatly

“The Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them.” Exodus 1:7

You know, that sentence so does not apply to my shitake mushroom kit! Apart from half a dozen very large mushrooms a few weeks ago, nothing much is happening in my block of compressed wood chips impregnated with shitake spawn.

I get excited when I read words and phrases like “fruitful”, “multiplied greatly”, “exceedingly numerous” and “the land was filled” and it is also a New Year with resolutions. I can just see it there written down…my resolution is to be fruitful, to work with God to see the church I am a part of multiply greatly… and so on.

If there was ever a day of pressure and great expectations it has to be January 1st of any year. People come out with some very grandiose resolutions. They wash off the chalk from last year’s list that they never really achieved, draw a line under their lack of success and take a clean stick of chalk from the box and start all over again with a new list.

Before I had written the first word on my resolution to be fruitful, God reminded me that the verse doesn’t stand in isolation. There is a “before” that came generations before the Israelites were fruitful. Way back in Genesis, God had made a promise to Abraham that just as the stars in the sky were beyond counting, his descendents would be beyond counting. And Abraham believed it would happen because God said so. Without God’s word and without Abraham’s faith in God’s word there would have been no “fruitful”, no “multiplied greatly”, no “exceedingly numerous” and no “the land was filled”. Abraham’s faith was the catalyst that made it happen.

There is no doubt that being fruitful is good. But there is a danger that the fruitfulness that I would like to see might be Mel manufactured. I am capable of great achievements when I put my mind to it. It needs to be something that begins not with me, but with God.

My problem is that I want the word to be “Mel-sized” – Mel manageable if it cannot be Mel manufactured. I don’t mind stretching if I can decide how far and in which direction, but that’s not what God wants. This is not about what I can manage. It has to be a “God-sized” word, managed entirely by God and where He gets to decide how far I am stretched and in what direction.


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