The In-between. Reaping.
(This series of devotionals spanned over a three year period of my life. I wrote out of truths that God shared with me throughout every season of this process. I love how he brought this all together and I pray that you will receive encouragement from what he allowed me to experience. Praise His Name!)
There is nothing quite as satisfying as living something you love. That does not necessarily make it easy, but it does make it very enjoyable. This is where I find myself after the in-between. I am in a season of reaping, a season of production, and I want to take a moment and just praise the Lord for that.
Aren't the days of lives marked by each season, each phase and each chapter? You find yourself consistently going in and coming out, beginning or finishing, or just surviving the smack middle of whatever circumstance the Lord has placed you in and we are so diligent to recognize the insecurities, the heartaches and even the release. But let's talk just a minute, or maybe an hour, about the harvest.
I mentioned I felt like I was in a season of reaping and I truly mean that. I have survived the infant, toddler, pre, elementary, middle and junior high school years with all my children, but one, and am reaping the benefits of persistent work. Let me specify, persistent not perfect work - we can talk about that later - and I am absolutely loving this almost grown stage of parenting. It really is such a delight. Once again, it's not perfect or easy, but it is extremely satisfying.
The same holds true for my marriage. Can someone please stand in solidarity with me and confess just how difficult marriage is?? We have been married for almost 24 years and are still working things out. Why? Because consistently putting someone else first is not my default method, but I will say, and Michael will agree, that we have really, intentionally worked hard on some areas the past couple of years and we are in the midst of a fantastic season. We laugh often, take offense less and just overall like each other more. You married folks will understand what I mean by that. We are in a beautiful time of reaping.
And ministry. Oh me. I really never thought I would be where I am right now, busy doing ministry. It simply was not on my radar. But God lovingly pulled, and let's be honest, most of the time drug me to a place where only he could take me.
I have a friend who always asks me great internal questions. Ones that I did not know I needed to ask myself. He does it in such a way that encourages while revealing areas that need prayerful processing. For the latest question he asked me to contemplate one area of fear I had surrounding my call to ministry and my pending graduation. The answer rolled out of me before I could even ponder.
"I'm afraid that no one will see me as worth using. That I will have answered this call, completed the work and no one will want me."
That was my gut reaction. Something I struggle with constantly - my inadequacies.
Somebody slap me or give me coffee and chocolate because I know better. My success or failure does not depend upon me! My job in this whole thing is minimal. I'm not saying it's easy, but I am not the heavy lifter. God is.
Our fun grape grower understands this concept as well. After all the plans for optimal growth have been carefully executed and the warnings against predators and dangerous diseases have been heeded, it all culmulates in this one thing - the growth and harvest of a good crop is dependent on precise amounts of rain and plenty of sunshine. Without them, all the planning and preparation in the world will not yield a crop. He warns the attempting farmer of the freeze that can claim dormant life and the over-saturated ground that will stunt growth as well as a lack of sun that will inhibit the photosynthesis process. And every one of these potential threats are completly independent of man's efforts.
Do you see it? Man can plan, but God brings the rain. And the sun.
What I need you and myself to understand is that my fear of being useless in the eyes of man would not have made the calling less or the plans of God a failure. Why? Because what I am slowly learning is that the harvest is soly dependant upon God.
I really want you to get this. If God called you, he will use you. It's a simple as that. We may not realize or know what the "using" will look like, but God does not waste what he has done.
There is a simple law at work here. I shared the verse in Galatians in the last devotional, but I need you to understand I am LIVING it out right now.
We will absolutely reap what we sow. You cannot get away from the fact. That is what defines it as a law.
You sow obedience, you will reap the harvest. You sow indifference or apathy or give-up(ness) - not a word, I know - you will reap those as well. I am not saying this to shame anyone. I am hopeful this spurs you on or entices you because, praise the Lord, we are not in charge of the harvest!
And we will never be.
I hope that statement brings a measure of freedom to someone as it did to me. God is responsible. My job was to follow the seeds in obedience after him. His job is the harvest. And I promise you any seed that God sows will always bring a harvest.
Allow that truth to follow you no matter what phase of the in-between you are facing. Do not get bogged down in human expectations or definitions of success. Do not get discouraged in doing good. God is in control. Nothing he does is wasted. God will bring the harvest. We will rejoice in the reaping!
I am so thankful that God graciously opened my eyes to see the reaping, experience it and live it! Perhaps he did so that I might share it with you. I would not be surprised. That would be just like him, praise his name!
All quotes from: http://www.grapegrowingguide.com/starting-your-vineyard.html
All scripture from NIV, ESV and NLT translations.