I heard a young man speak about the parable of the sower(recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke) at our local men’s prayer breakfast. He noted we often focus on the soil when we read the words of Jesus, but his attention had been drawn to meditate on what it would have been like to be the sower. The sower is given the task of sowing seeds of eternal truth. He knows some seeds will fall on fertile soil and produce plentiful fruit, while others would land on rocky terrains and amongst thorns and be unfruitful. But his calling was to continue patiently sowing the seeds as this was the task assigned to him.
I applied this parable to my own life in two different ways. As a speaker and teacher, my calling is to sow the seeds of truth not knowing what kind of fruit will come from my messages. I love to hear from people who have benefited from some of the talks I have given, or from reading books I have written. But regardless of what feedback I receive, my job is to keep my eyes on Jesus and do what He has designed me to do.
As a parent, my task is to be faithful in loving, teaching, praying for, and discipling my children. I am not to measure the fruit or judge ourselves by the results of our work, but to sow, pray, and lay down my life for my family. Others will water and ultimately God will give the growth.“What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:5-6)
It is comforting knowing God is alive, powerful, and on our team. We are not alone in this task as we work with Him. We are blessed to have God the Father’s great heart, His Son’s effectual prayers, and the daily presence of the Good Holy Spirit working for us in this wonderful calling to raise our children to live forever. God never asks us to be successful, but He does call us to be faithful.
Ingredient 17: God is on Your Team, taken from “Family Worship”.
In the margin of my Bible next to Isaiah 54:13, I have printed one word: gerbils. Let me give a little background first. In the year after our son John was born with Down Syndrome, we spent many weeks in the hospital working to keep him alive. He had a close call with a virus that put him in an oxygen tent when he was four months old. While he was there, the doctors detected a heart problem that resulted in two catheterizations at six and eight months, followed by open heart surgery. Two months later a blockage showed up that led to intestinal surgery. As a result, Sandi and I both burned out. I was emotionally fried, and Sandi had Epstein-Barr, candida, and chronic fatigue. Looking to regroup as a family, we moved to a different state.
The next year we found ourselves in a small ranch home beginning to rebuild but still with health issues and regular battles with fatigue. The boys were looking for a pet, but the options were limited due to my allergies, so we decided on gerbils. Sandi was not enthusiastic at the prospect of these rodents multiplying, escaping from the cage, and taking up housekeeping in our couch and furniture. The pet shop owner was strictly charged to find two male gerbils, which were named Jim Thorpe (my favorite athlete) and Georgie Russell (of Davy Crockett fame).
Within a few weeks, Sandi was teaching the two older boys using a unit study method. The topic that week was related to reproduction. Usually she would have a catchy hands-on illustration to introduce the new unit, but since she was virtually bedridden with her health issues, she covered the basics, handed out the assignments, and rested. You can probably guess what happened. The next morning the boys awoke rejoicing to find a cage full of baby gerbils.
Jim Thorpe was renamed Jemima and my prophetic wife’s fear had come to pass. But I was encouraged. God used that litter of rodents to make me know that He was on our team. He looked down from heaven, saw Sandi needed an illustration, and whamo! (a divine creative act), gerbils appeared. Through this experience, God made me know that He was alive, that He loved our kids more than we did, and He was overseeing their education, even when we were limited physically. My wife was like the woman who anointed Jesus, of whom Jesus said, “She has done what she could,” and then God made up the difference.
Whenever I read Isaiah 54:13—“All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children” —I remember the gerbils. I am reminded that God is alive and desires to see our children gathered around the throne more than we do. He wants them to learn His Word and His ways and is intimately involved in their upbringing. As His earthly representatives, God has designed us to pass on eternal truth to our children, but He is still working as well.
May “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 9:10) AMEN!