Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You, too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.
- James 5:7-8 NIV
When my family became acquainted with Christian music years ago, we naturally wanted to share our enthusiasm with our friends and relatives. My boys, Joseph and John--who were teenagers at the time--seemed determined to get their teen cousins "turned on" to their new music. Whenever a gift-giving occasion came around, my boys would eagerly select and purchase music for their cousins that they had hoped would be a blessing to them. This went on for a few years until finally, my sister had to tactfully let me know that buying Christian music for her daughters was a waste. My boys were heartbroken, but we talked about the situation and decided to leave the matter in God's hands. I sympathized with my sons because I, too, had a desire to see my own sister take an interest in music that glorified the Lord. My attempts to introduce her to my music were unsuccessful, so I eventually gave up trying, and I began praying for God to change her heart. A year or two later, one of the ladies my sister worked with began sharing her love for Christian music with my sis, who began developing a love of her own for it. Now my sister delights in introducing ME to new music that glorifies God, and we have a new common bond between us that has made our relationship even stronger.
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 sister. 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 lives, and to nurture them with prayer, godly behavior, and understanding. Thank You for the valuable harvests that will bless many and glorify You!
- J. M. Farro