Continuing the theme of Lent, I found myself praying about God’s method of supply to us.
Through the entire Scripture, God places a high emphasis on seedtime and harvest. Timing is a central theme in Ecclesiastes – arguably a book which could lead to severe depression if read in the wrong perspective. I had a friend who used to say he’d read Lamentations if he felt he was too happy, and Ecclesiastes if he wanted to be suicidal!
I don’t hold to his viewpoint, but it’s easy taking passages out of context to see why he had this view (which I think was an attempt at humour, but I can’t be certain!)
Timing of events is central in much of the Bible, but timing of provision is a different matter. There is not one episode where an individual came to Jesus in faith where He turned them away or refused to help because the timing wasn’t right. In fact, His first miracle – the wine at the wedding in Cana – He actually says to His mother “[<sup class="footnote" value="[a]”>Dear] woman, what is that to you and to Me? [What do we have in common? Leave it to Me.] My time (hour to act) has not yet come.” (John 2:4b Amplified), then proceeds to perform the miracle anyway. This sets a precedent for us in asking God for something. The bridegroom would have been embarrassed – utterly humiliated in fact – if it had become known that there was insufficient wine provided. Jesus apparently cared enough about this man’s reputation – and bear in mind we know nothing about him other than it was his wedding day – that Jesus provides not just a few bottles, but six water jars of between 20 and 30 gallons of the highest quality wine the taster has had. At an average of 25 gallons, that’s 150 gallons of top quality wine. Over 750 standard bottles of wine of today’s size.
Extravagance. Generosity. Selflessness.
Jesus could have announced the miracle. Rowan Atkinson parodied the miracle in one of his sketches by having the servants (who did know what had happened) push him to do another “trick”. Whilst the sketch is amusing, it demonstrates his lack of understanding of why Jesus provided, and more importantly ignores the fact that He then makes no mention of it to the family, the wine taster or anyone else. Presumably John, the Gospel writer, as one of Jesus’s friends, may have been present as a witness, or told about it by Mary. In any event, it makes it clear that the organisers had no clue, but the groom was not humiliated, and Jesus was not self-promoting.
What has this got to do with Harvest?
Jesus teaches about seed. When a seed falls to the ground and dies it produces fruit. A single apple pip can produce tens of thousands of apples if planted in good soil. Grapes, corn, oats, wheat. Any living thing operates on the same principle – including Jesus Himself. Die to self and reap a harvest. Jesus sowed His Life, and reaps ours as His harvest. But the principle is what matters.
If we want an acre of corn, the last thing we should plant is apples. Apple seeds do not produce corn. Neither do barley, pomegranate, oats, pears, oranges or anything else that’s not a corn seed.
What’s the point here?
You get out what you put in.
Our life is the soil Jesus talks about in the parable of the “sower”. Really, it should be referred to as the parable of the Soils, as the seed sown is the same, and the sower doesn’t change, rather it’s the soil that differs. Soft, fertile ground that is free from weeds produces a harvest. Hard ground prevents roots from forming, and the seed is wasted. Shallow soil withers a plant and it (usually) dies or bears no fruit. Soil contaminated with weed seeds will result in the crop being choked.
In each case, the seed is the same. It’s the result that varies. Our lives are no different.
We sow Love, joy, a smile, and we reap what we sowed. The same happens when we sow anger. Anger usually breeds anger.