I am writing this article on the first day of spring! Springtime is my favorite season. In my farming days I would get excited about the grass turning green and looked forward to the day the cows would be turned out to pasture after many months of being cooped up in the dark barn. They were excited too! I couldn’t wait for the fields to dry up enough so that plowing and harrowing could begin. As the soil warmed up the time came for seeding grain and com. The smell of the soil as the spring rains softened the furrows gave me a deep sense of being in step with nature. Spring is a time of great expectations! It begins when the first seeds start to sprout and you survey the fields to see if there is a good stand. There is a great sense of accomplishment as crops continue to grow and mature especially during those years when there is evidence enough to believe that there will be a bountiful harvest.
Now that I am a pastor, I am still ‘sowing seeds’ and I often pray that the soil will be warm and receptive. With this in mind I think of what the Apostle Paul said in this regard: “I planted, Apollo’s watered, but God makes it grow. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.” (1 Corinthians 6:3). This is true on the farm as well as it is in the Church. Do I still get as excited about the planting of seeds as when I was farming? Yes, I do! But like in farming, many things can go wrong. The weather did not always cooperate with our seeding schedule. In a similar way, the gospel sometimes seems to fall on deaf ears. The reason for this can be varied, but it seems that these days it may be due to our ‘politically correct’ climate. In recent years there are issues that are increasingly difficult to speak about because you cannot be ‘heard’ in the right way and the term ‘phobia’ is often expressed. For example, the Bible’s definition of marriage, family and the sanctity of life is very clear. How does a pastor navigate around these issues? It is so tempting to steer clear of these ‘hot button’ topics. But is a pastor free to pick and choose as to which seeds he/she will plant? The Apostle Paul urges Timothy to proclaim the whole counsel of God and to do this in season and out of season. “Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). I strongly suspect that pastors have their own favorite (spiritual) season. To lead people to Christ, and to watch them grow in their faith is like the spring season. But then come the storms in life, perhaps resulting in divorce and broken families. Is this because the definition of marriage, of family, is not so clear anymore? Are we still clearly proclaiming what God’s Word has to say about these topics, or has ‘ phobia’ set in? Your pastors need your prayers, that they will indeed proclaim the whole counsel of God. There will be a harvest if we do not become weary in well doing.
The exciting thing about preaching (planting seeds) is that God has promised that it will accomplish his purposes. The challenge is to remain faithful to the Word and to preach it courageously. It is the Holy Spirit who gives that courage. As you witness the beauty of spring as it unfolds all around us in nature, let us also remember the beauty of God’ s Word as it unfolds in the lives of his people.
Pastor Brent VanderHeide.