“Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.” – John 4:35-38
It had been a long day at school, so it was not by choice that I sat waiting for the salesperson to work on our order at the wireless store. I tried to remain positive and tell myself that God had put me there for a purpose. At that present time, it wasn’t obvious; at least not yet.
We had put off switching to a new wireless carrier for some time, but it had finally gotten to the point if we wanted to communicate as needed, we were going to have to use the service that provided the best coverage for the area in which we lived and worked. The young man that waited on me was very kind and extremely courteous. As he began the process of transferring data from one device to the other, we started talking about where I worked and found that we had mutual connections. It wasn’t long before it became apparent, he was a believer too. In fact, after we shared some personal testimony, he told me that he had given his two weeks’ notice just moments before I stepped foot in the door to answer his calling to become a youth pastor at a nearby church.
It was then I began to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit ripple across my forearms.
Suddenly, his phone rang, and he had to excuse himself from our conversation.
About that time message appeared on my old phone which we had not yet ported over to the new service. The news was from a distant relative, one that I’ve never met in person. A few years back, I had shared with him part of our Waldensian ancestry and how we came to be. He seemed interested, but not beyond just wanting to hear about those ancient names. The story beyond, from whence we came didn’t seem to intrigue him; at least not from my vantage point. Once I provided him the information, we only remained in contact through shared “likes” on social media. However, from what I saw from his posts, his life once was devoured by pleasures of the flesh. He found his comfort at the end of a bottle, so the pictures said. But the message at that moment that came to me as I sat in the cell phone store in Boone was that God had found a way to reach him.
As I read with eyes of joy, he told a friend who had inquired about his post, “I haven’t touched a drop in over a year.” He then went on to say how he was regularly attending a church in his community. My heart leaped for joy, and I stood up, rejoicing out loud. The questions raced through my mind, “Had I somehow planted a seed?” “Did God use that seemingly insignificant contact years ago to begin working on my distant cousin?” Those and many more rushed through my mind as my new friend got off the phone smiling at my exuberant demeanor.
“I guess that was good news,” he said pointing at my phone.
“Oh, yes, more than I can explain,” pausing to gain understanding of what had all just transpired.
Then the words of Jesus came rushing in, “And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.”
In all things, no matter how small, nor how insignificant, God has a purpose. As I stood there in that small store, I had found another soul that had recently taken another leap of faith. As we talked the thought of another time and place when my just being somewhere was God using me, and again, it felt the same. Yet, now as I stood there, another soul had found something greater than that which is in the world.
With each tiny seed we plant, we may not reap the harvest, but it is God that will bring the crop to fruition. It is not us that will change that being. It is not our doing that will cause another to turn to Christ; it is God, and God alone.
Last Saturday, as we sat watching the Western Piedmont Community College graduates ascend the short stairway to the stage, the feeling of a proud parent swelled our chests. In what seemed like yesterday, I was holding him in my arms for the first time, watching the helpless lifeform, totally dependent upon his mother and father to survive. Our son now stood in his graduation regalia receiving his diploma, then leaving the stage, returned to his seat. His independence is a culmination of 18 years of love, care, and patience. What God hath given life unto us, we have taken that responsibility and nurtured him into adulthood. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required,” reads Luke 12:48 And so with eyes brimming with moisture, we know that soon he will leave us. It is only natural.
We had planted the seed. It is up to him to continue to allow it to grow. But the seed had begun to ripen much earlier.
For those many years of his life, we have taught him how to live in faith. At the tender age of 10 years, he found Christ. His salvation came in a little model Church at the Denton Bluegrass Festival. Every year, Doyle Lawson would offer those who wanted to attend, a church service at the close of his festival. One of his good friends, brother Dale Tilley, would most often be the preacher. And so it was this Mother’s Day weekend when we sat in the row just behind Doyle’s band, that we heard brother Tilley bring another spirit-filled sermon to a weary group of bluegrass campers. After brother Dale Tilley had nearly finished his altar call, my weekend was just about to get even better. Without any idea what was about to happen, my boy leaned over to me and whispered the words into my ear that I will never forget, “I want to be saved.”
My heart leaped for joy.
Upon his request to wait until everyone had left, I motioned to brother Tilley that we needed to talk, and as everyone ushered themselves out, the door closed and we were alone. Brother Tilley directed us through the process as we knelt in prayer and supplication. There on that ancient wooden floor of the little white clapboard country church, my son spoke the words and prayed the prayer to ask Christ to come into his life. With tears in my eyes, we stood up to leave. It was just brother Tilley, my son and I. As we reached the back doors of the church, we opened them to find that we were not alone. There under a clear, blue Carolina sky stood Doyle Lawson and his entire band. The entire entourage was still standing in a row on the steps of the church, they had paused from their busy schedule, waiting to celebrate my son’s decision.
The tears ran down my cheeks as I watched entertainers turned Christians welcome another one into their fold.
It is a day I will never forget.
The seed had been planted, but another reaped the harvest, but we rejoiced together.
God has a purpose in everything we do. What will become of the young man at the cell phone store? I may never know, but it really doesn’t matter; God knows.
One day, when we reach that far distant shore, there will be a welcoming into the fold. We’ll find the angels of the Lord standing in a row, pausing for each of us, ushering us into those heavenly gates. On that day, the answers to the questions we never knew will become obvious.
What a day it will be.
Thanks be to God.