“How do you keep going?” This was a question posed to me this week. My friend was bemoaning a series of ‘set backs’ that some of our folks have experienced. “It seems like we take one step forward and are knocked back two!” my discouraged friend continued.
Discouraging news, it seems, is never far away from us here at Street Hope. I don’t think we are more beset with setbacks than others. Rather I believe that our ‘set backs’ are more obvious because of the innate transparency of our vulnerable community. Set backs are not less frequent but less noticed in suburban or rural ministry. Discouragement is so often an ailment of Christian ministry. We frail people continue to fall short and sometimes spectacularly! The evidence around us reminds us that we inhabit a fallen world. I suspect this is why scripture insists that we encourage one another. God knows that circumstances naturally lend themselves to a devolution to discouragement. We are living in a Good Friday kind of world, but we do so with an Easter hope! Naturally we can get down but supernaturally we can ‘get up’. “I have overcome the world!” We need to encourage one another with this.
I was able to share with my friend that I was not discouraged. I told him that only a week before I had planted garlic bulbs in the cold ground. Throughout this winter with its frosty blasts and drifts of snow those bulbs will lay dead in that frigid soil, dead for all appearances, but in good time they spring to life. I am confident in that because I sowed good seed and live in hope that they will bear fruit.
I reminded my friends “God is not mocked! What you sow you will reap.” God has established some immutable principles. One of these is sowing and reaping. What we sow we will one day harvest. This is a warning against ‘sowing’ poor or evil seed but it is an encouragement that seed which is good will produce good fruit, in time. I don’t know the exact time those garlic bulbs will begin to sprout. I don’t know when the good seed we sow at Street Hope will take hold in some lives. I do know that God has promised that he has established this pattern of sowing followed by reaping.
In Narnia for a time it was always winter but never Christmas. The idea of harvest was banished from the land but Aslan changed all that! Jesus resurrection changes everything for us. The empty tomb continues to inform our lives. Let’s not live as if God were powerless in the face of this dying planet. Our outward circumstances may mock His sovereignty but He will be vindicated, and the harvest will come, in due season.
If God’s work remains unseen, by me, if He continues to fail to consult me about his plans, I will choose to trust Him and his unchanging character. I want to encourage you with that thought. Perhaps someday soon I will need you to encourage me.