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Main from the Manse -October

Dear Friends

As harvest dominates this season of the year, I am thinking of what one man at our twin church in Buzivka, Ukraine told me with regards to the fruitfulness of the land he was harvesting at that time. Apparently, when he was a boy his mother used to send him every week to an old friend in the village who needed help with their garden. It seemed there were more stones in that garden than Richard Burton ever gave Elizabeth Taylor, but   over time that lad removed every one of them. Later in life he was given the opportunity to buy that house and land, and was blessed to see so much grow on a now fertile plot that as a boy had little but stones in it.

That man was truly reaping the good work he did many years ago as a boy, and is now enjoying the benefits of all his past efforts. A reminder to us all if we need it, of the unchangeable and universal law of the harvest. The Bible outlines it for us in (Galatians 6:7) where we are told, “A person reaps what they sow.” We mostly tend to think about that in terms of the bad consequences of the bad seed we sow, but there is a better side to that reaping equation too! It is true that “The one who sows to please their sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction.” God is not mocked, so we must not be deceived into thinking that we can go our own way and still be blessed for it. However, we are further told, “The one who sows to please the Spirit, from the spirit will reap eternal life.” As much as we cannot escape the consequences of our wrongdoing, neither can we forfeit the reward for doing good; which is why Paul goes on to make the very practical application by saying, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Patience is the key. The reason we do sometimes give up on some of the good we are trying to do is because the reward does not come quickly enough. Yet that is the nature of harvesting. A farmer knows they cannot plant carrots one week and then go out and pick them the next! There is a time lag between sowing and reaping, and it can look like nothing is going to come from it. We may not all be farmers, but we still all end up living today in the life that we built yesterday.    The time we did or did not spend on the relationships we have; the good or bad we did or did not do; the way we did or did not treat other people. We all did some sowing today that will ultimately bring forth the kinds of things we sowed. Best we be investing our lives doing good then, because this is what really it pays off.

Consciously do random acts of kindness each day; giving a gift when there is no occasion for your appreciation but just the means of blessing the person themselves. Send those notes of encouragement, hand out that compliment, help lift people’s burdens and spirits, not afraid to be generous, and not unwilling to go the extra mile even when that does not come back to you immediately. The Coronavirus may have robbed us of the communal fellowship so vital to the life of the body of Christ, but it has not limited our capacity to sow kindness and do good. On the contrary, it ought to have increased it. We have seldom had more time without our numerous church meetings to get on and sow the seeds of gospel living our faith in Christ should reflect. 

As Jesus made clear, “You lose your life by trying to hang onto it, but you find your life by giving it away” (Luke 9:24). We must not be afraid of what we will lose by giving. God has promised that we will gain so much more. We do not become richer by keeping what we have got. We become richer by giving it away. As (Ecclesiastes 11:1)says, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again”

I do not know when we will all be able to all meet safely together again. I do not know what the outcome of us being apart for so long will be either.  I do know however, that it will be worth waiting for if we don’t become weary in doing good, and if we do not, in the meantime, give up on scattering the very seeds of love and grace that God has sown into us.

We may feel that the present restrictions reduce us to little more than pulling out stones, but let us keep going and keep sowing because we may well be in for an awesome harvest if we don’t become weary in doing good.

Your Friend and Pastor

Shaun