FIRST-PERSON: 'Plow in hope' toward the harvest
BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (BP) -- I still own my grandfather's large push plow. And it may sound strange, but I loved pushing it through rows of pink-eye purple-hull peas, okra, Silver King Corn and Big Boy tomatoes.
Why would I love pushing that plow through the rich soil of South Alabama under the hot sun? Two reasons: First, I dearly love my granddaddy and I loved spending as much time with him as possible. He was amazingly wise and masterfully encouraging. Second, I knew from experience our harvest would come if we were good at planting the seeds and faithful at tending the field.
Those sweet memories cultivate a great hope for the future when I read 1 Corinthians 9:10: "For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: he that plows should plow in hope...."
Between my nearly 20 years as a Tennessee pastor and six years as the Tennessee Baptist Convention's executive director, it has been a joy to meet thousands of great pastors and ministry leaders across our state faithfully pushing the Gospel plow. Many are in the midst of planting life-transforming seeds. Some are breaking up some very hard and tough ground, preparing to plant. Others are in the midst of reaping a great harvest of spiritually lost people becoming saved, baptized and set on the road of discipleship.
And I know why you great servants of God are doing what you faithfully do.
You love your Father and you have been promised a harvest. However, as you know, God doesn't promise we'll have easy days working in His field. Farmers deal with drought, storms, crop disease, critters that slip in and graze on their crops, and a host of other challenges. Being a cultivator of God's people and working His fields is equally challenging. Like the diligent farmer, we must faithfully weather each season and celebrate when the harvest comes in.
The great news is that our all-loving and all-wise heavenly Father walks with us and encourages us each step of the way as we plow ahead. As Deuteronomy 31:8 states: "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged!"
And He gives us the sacred and sure promise of a holy harvest, as reflected in Psalm 126:6: "He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing bringing his sheaves with him."
Being in ministry, especially pastoral ministry, can sometimes be exhausting. Guard yourselves. Look to the Lord and His Word to revive you. Recognize you're in a season and pray God will send spiritual rain when you need it in the dry season. But whatever you do, dear friend, do not throw in the towel.
Farmers never pause midseason because they know the goal is not to simply get seed in the ground or crops to spout up. They cultivate and nurture knowing that the objective of months of sweaty labor is get to the end of the season and bring in a harvest.
Pastor and fully devoted followers of Christ, planting and cultivating. Wake up to a new day knowing you're one day closer to a harvest because you've faithfully tended the field. Our reality as ministers is that we will never know this side of heaven how God used us to extend His Kingdom in the lives of people. Plow in hope while looking forward to that day when our heavenly Father reveals the fruit of the harvest.