Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sometimes I Just Need To Remember This

Took a hit last night, one of those blindside deals that leaves you wondering. Went to bed, couldn't sleep for a while, so I prayed. And I prayed. Fell asleep, woke up. Prayed. Went on all night. Got up this morning and felt a little better about it, but things like that linger.

So God sent me Steve Brown's blog to crush what was left. He was reflecting on the parable of the sower and saw for the first time that he was focusing on the wrong part of the story.

So Jesus looked at them and said, "Let me tell you a story." He told
them about an unsuccessful sower. As I count the seeds in the parable, only 25% of the seeds grew to harvest and the rest died.

You've probably heard me say that if you get 51% in a fallen world, you should file it under success. Let me tell you something else. If you're a farmer and you get only 25%, you probably should give up farming.

Now let me tell you what I learned when I started thinking about the sower.

First, I learned that if you can't deal with failure, don't play the game.

I'm reminded of the priest who, when he began his ministry at 20, prayed, "O Lord, grant that I may win the world to Christ." When he was 40, he prayed, "O Lord, grant that I may win my city to Christ." When he was 50, he prayed, "O Lord, grant that I may win my church to Christ."

When he was 60, he prayed, "Lord, don't let me lose too many!"

I tell my students that if they have biographies of "famous Christians" in their libraries and those books don't tell about the failure and the sin, they should burn the biographies. The ones that don't tell you the truth about the humanness of being human will make you go into vinyl repair.

I also learned from the parable of the sower that I don't own the farm or the seeds. I'm just a "hired hand."

And then this...

Oh, and I learned one other thing from the parable of the sower. I learned that one should never define oneself by the seeds, the soil or the harvest. If you define yourself that way, sometimes you'll feel that you're "pond scum" and at other times you'll think they ought to expand the Trinity to make room for you.

Both are inappropriate for a Christian.

The only appropriate way for a believer to define himself or herself is by the One who loved us enough to make us acceptable and to give us the seeds to sow. Wherever you are, just throw the seeds God gave you. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to do that and you don't have to be trained at a leadership seminar. All you have to do is to take the seeds God gives and, wherever you are, throw them on the soil.

And don't keep digging them up to see if they're growing. That's not your concern.

He asked me to remind you.

New Hope is not mine, and I don't have a congregation. God does. He's the owner of the field and the giver of the seeds. I can be passionate, skillful, winsome and wise and some seeds won't thrive, and I can be none of those and some will.

My job is to love God fiercely, and through that love, love the ones He's given me and help them grow. Sometimes I just need to remember the limits of my job description.

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