Last week, I wrote about how we need to be using our devices for good and not evil. However, the lines of evil have been blurred lately right? We tend to live on the spectrum of building ourselves up and judging others; a scope flush with angry assumptions that build walls instead of tearing them down. My last post gave a little insight as to why we don't bring ourselves to God when we're mad but why we totally should.
In our anger, believers should remember three things:
Christ has already won (John 16:33)
Ask why? to learn how to pray (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
Pray, so we can act out our faith (James 2:22)
We remember these things because we are all stewards of God's grace in various forms (1 Peter 4:10). As I say all the time, whatever the church is not willing to do, the world will fill the gaps. I'd like to take the idea in 1 Peter 4:10 and talk about how we should cultivate seeds.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10
In your own life, what are the various forms of God's grace you have received? I will list a few of my own below:
2010: I married Army PFC Josh Wetzel with no earthly idea how to have a healthy relationship, manage finances, or make my own decisions
2011: Per the orders of the Army, I moved with my new husband to Tacoma, Washington to start the life of all the things I didn't know how to do
2012: My relationship with God became real because Josh was almost killed on his deployment. I moved to Washington DC to help Josh rehabilitate with no clue if he would ever be independent again
2013: I had my first baby, completely terrified to be someone else's mother
2014: We left the hospital in Washington DC and moved to Auburn, Alabama ready to start life our way. We had no idea how much responsibility it would actually take.
2015: Josh went back to college, I started working in another city, we were miserable and so far away from God
2016: I became pregnant with my second child when I was sure that my marriage was over
2017: My grandfather and best buddy died
2018: Josh and I found ourselves in need of serious grace by realizing how expensive our sin was. We got baptized together which prepared us for the challenges we have faced since.
2019: My career in NCAA volleyball came to a heartbreaking end and my grandmother died.
2020: ....enough said
Grace, in various forms. These are just the mile markers, by the way. These don't even include the daily grace I've needed to deal with my immaturity in marriage, raising children, and mountains of laundry. I needed God's grace to help me understand my suffering is not a punishment, to love when I didn't feel loved, to drive me into His arms, to help me pursue God when I felt selfish, and, above all, not give me the punishment I deserve for my sins.
Once we have experienced the abounding grace of God, we should desire that experience for all believers, especially those who battle with knowing and believing God's Word. Make no mistake, there is only one way to get to the Father and that is through Christ Jesus, but Christ is a pursuer and he uses grace in many forms as the vehicle of pursuit. God met me drowning in my sin and misfortune and extended grace every single time. Even when I wasn't that thankful for it. So if we are to pursue the hearts of others, we have to be willing to go beyond spreading seeds. We have to prepare, cultivate, and water until we see it through to a harvest.
Anyone can plant a seed, but who loves it enough to see it through? Sometimes, we think we are spreading the Gospel, but we are actually doing this:
Tossing little specks of hope at hurt and skeptical souls with a "best of luck! God bless you" and the seeds are on their own. Cultivating that seed when the soil might be tarnished from trauma, church hurt, or just finding Jesus a little weird probably looks a lot more like this:
According to my mom, tomatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. To grow tomatoes, you could dig out a small plot, buy some soil and seeds, and with a consistent watering schedule, you could probably grow a decent stock of tomatoes. How would it change if you intended to grow great tomatoes? You could read articles, research growing tomatoes in your region of the country, stalk the weather, prime and prep the soil, and seek advice from expert tomato growers.
What if we treated our ministry like that? What if we utilized the fruits of the spirit to help us cultivate the fruits in someone else?
We could love people that have been abused by those that claimed to love them.
We could bring joy when our own circumstances aren't great.
We could bring peace when the world says panic.
We could show patience when we don't see conviction taking root.
We can remain kind, even if kindness is one-sided.
We can remain good and not cave in to the evil that already exists in the world.
We can remain faithful that God is working even if it feels like nothing we do is working.
We can prove ourselves gentle and a soft place to land when their wandering is over.
We can have self-control that refrains us from retaliating, mocking, confusing, or completely digging up in doubt what we've planted in faith.
The planting and the harvest are not in the same season. Who's willing to not only speak a good word, but to see how it lands? Who's willing to spread the seed and commit to watering it? When I decided I wanted to live out my faith, I thought it meant I needed to become a great speaker, write a book, or gain more influence. All those things were under the intention of telling others how I survived not how powerful God is. My intention now is set by visualizing the people who could give God a chance by hearing my story. Maybe if I talked more about what God has done, the very nature of the soil could change so that a seed can land and take root. If my story is actually God's story, then people won't hear it and think wow, look what she did. They will think wow, look what God did.
We are not called to be like the world, but every one of us is called to cultivate seeds in the very climate, atmosphere, storm, or bounty that we find ourselves in right now. The various forms of God's grace can cover the old man and the teenager, the wayward child and the rule follower, the talker and the quiet one, the liberal and the conservative, and the beginner and the expert.
A prayer for this week:
God, help us to not just spread the seeds with a "take it or leave it" attitude. Help us to care enough to see how they land, to study the reception, to be patient with the growth, and to praise YOU during the harvest. Help us to remember all the times when your grace came and found us in either ignorance or rebellion. Let it humble us so we can extend it to someone else. Help us to not mistake anyone for a weed. If you can use Paul who killed Christians, David who murdered, or Peter who denied you, then help us to never make the mistake of deeming one of your creations as unworthy of the time, prayer, and love that you so patiently extend to each of us. Help us live out our faith by finding more ways to point people to you. Help us start within arms length.