Behind on the bills. Working almost seven days a week (on the night shift now, by the way), while my wife puts in her five. The paychecks go from our hands to the bill collectors, no matter how good she is at managing money and budgeting. I go to bed when she’s getting up and ready for work in the morning. Neither she nor the kids have me home at night, that sense of surety and security all but gone. Egos and personalities constantly in conflict, each will trying to bend the other into submission. Time is there for neither God nor family nor self. Is there any wonder I haven’t posted in a while? Do I have a valid reason to not go to church, try to lead others to Christ or question and wonder, “Why me?” Absolutely not…
If I’m going to accurately depict the grace and mercy of God, I have to be brutally honest. Due to a clerical error, my wife getting sick and changing jobs a couple of months ago (thereby missing a few checks coming in), and changes in my job, we’ve come to the point of almost being evicted from our home. We’re at each others throats more often than we have been since God started me on this journey. My family life is suffering because I’m tired from working all the time, making it difficult to find the energy to pray with them, eat with them or simply go to the store with them. We haven’t been to church in three Sundays. Now I’m not vain enough to think that we’re the only ones going through tough times. It’s happening all over the world to varying degrees. The trials you go through, however, make them the most important things to those who are going through them.
Now that you know where I am, and where I’ve been for the last few weeks, let me tell you how I made it back. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m the Captain of my ship. But this Captain has been derelict in his duties of late. In spite of life’s recent hiccups, I’ve tried to maintain my faith. It hasn’t been as strong as usual, but I at least try to attempt to stay close to God. Prayers don’t come as often as they should, but they’re there. I find that faith fluctuates just a bit. I’ll go from saying to myself, “I’m going to get through this with You, God. Lead me where You want me to go, and I’ll follow.” To, “Is there ever going to be a light at the end of the tunnel? We’re good people. Why can’t we catch a break?” Through some of the friends and family God has placed in our lives, we’re about to.
Today, I was speaking to my pastor, Gregory, about our situation. He completely understands where I am, having worked three jobs at a certain time in his life to provide for his family. He knows how busy we can get trying to survive. He also reminded me of something, however. It wasn’t a chastisement. It was a much-needed encouragement. He simply said to read Mark chapter four. Don’t forget to sow.
“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. Other seed fell among the thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” Then He said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” Mark 4:3-9
It goes on to say in verses 13-20…
Then Jesus said to them, “If you can’t understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty or even a hundred times as much as has been planted.”
I spoke to a close friend of ours not long after I spoke to Gregory. I told her he asked me to read Mark chapter four. She said you also need to remember to sow. When I told her that’s what the verses were about, she informed me that she didn’t know what Mark four said. Then she explained that you don’t always have to sow in the form of money. She’s known people who all they had was a pen. While I may not have the money to put in the offering plate on Sunday, I have other abilities. Take writing for example. I didn’t realize it at first, but I certainly get God’s message loud and clear now. This blog is my seed. And I haven’t been tending my fields lately.
The last part of chapter four is probably the most powerful…
When Jesus woke up, He rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped and there was a great calm. Then He asked (to the disciples), “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. Even the winds and the waves obey Him!” Mark 4:39-41
Am I afraid of what life has in store for me and my family? Sometimes, sure. It’s part of being human. But I also have faith. That part of me tells me that it’s going to work out. For God’s glory and by His grace, it’ll be okay. And that seed will be multiplied a hundred-fold.
Forgive me, Father. And thank you for righting my ship! 😀