When I made a quality decision to devote myself to the Lord twenty years ago, people began noticing a difference in me almost immediately, and not everyone was happy about it. My husband, Joe, for instance, felt confused, bewildered, and threatened by some of the changes he saw in me, and he constantly let me know that he wasn't pleased with his "new" wife. I spent time alone with God each day, praying, reading His Word, and seeking His comfort and His counsel. Even though a part of me understood my husband's hostile attitude toward my newfound faith, I felt deeply wounded and betrayed by it. As I persevered and did my best to plant seeds of faith and love in the soil of Joe's heart, the Lord honored my efforts and turned his heart toward Him. Today, my husband is my biggest supporter where my love for the Lord and my ministry are concerned.
This experience was a reminder to me that when we plant seeds of faith in the hearts of others, we usually have to endure a waiting period. If you're like me, you not only want to impact others' lives for God, but you want to see the fruit of your labor right away. But the Lord used the verses above to remind me that, like farmers planting their crops need to be patient and wait for their valuable harvest, we must patiently wait to see the results of our efforts for God's kingdom. While these verses actually relate to the Lord's Second Coming, I also see a principle at work here that helps me to understand how we must often wait upon God to reveal His presence and power in people's lives and circumstances. Through our prayers, words, and actions, we can plant seeds in the lives of others that will produce a harvest for their good and God's glory. But if we become too frustrated or anxious, we could literally dig up the seeds we've planted before they've had a chance to take root and bear fruit. There have been many times when I've become impatient with the spiritual progress of those around me - especially my closest loved ones - and out of anger and frustration, I've uprooted the seeds of faith I had tenderly planted in their hearts. In many cases, it took months - or even years - to undo the damage I had done in just a short time.
I've had to learn the hard way that planting a harvest for God takes time, patience, and understanding. Now, when I begin to get anxious and impatient with the spiritual growth of others around me, I often think of my experience with my husband. It reminds me that even when it seems that my efforts are failing miserably, God could very well be working behind the scenes to make them fruitful somewhere down the line. I believe that as long as I am praying in faith and planting seeds according to God's leading, the Lord will keep working in that person's life somehow. I've seen God go to great lengths to put pressure on people, and to surround them with believers, simply because I began praying for them and asking the Lord to change them. Now I take great comfort in knowing that even if I can't impact someone personally, God knows who can, and He will send the right person across their path as I pray for them in faith.
I'm sharing all this with you today to encourage you not to give up on your efforts to influence others for God. Satan will try to convince you that all your prayers and seed planting are a waste of time and energy, but don't you believe it. Instead, put your hope in God, who's urging you today - "Be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near"!
Prayer: Lord, when I'm tempted to become impatient with seeing the fruits of my labor for You, please remind me that my impatience can do more harm than good. Show me how to plant seeds of faith in people's hearts and lives, and to nurture them with prayer, godly behavior, and understanding. Thank You for the valuable harvests that will bless many and glorify You!
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