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Saturday, May 23, 2015

A seed not sown

You have probably heard the little quip, "If a tree falls in the forest, does anyone hear it", but I have to ask the more important question - who actually knows why it falls where it does, when it exactly fell, and what good it will do in the place it has fallen?  Even a fallen tree has a benefit - maybe not the same benefit it had as a growing tree, but it "gives back" something it could not while it was upright.  I think we often don't think of our decline in years as being "fruitful" years, equating our youthful years as those which were the most fruitful.  Yet, if we consider the vast wealth of knowledge we have accumulated, the wisdom we have amassed by seeing and doing what we have done over the years, it becomes quite clear our fruitful years don't have to end just because we are no longer this big, thriving tree standing upright in the forest!  My mom is 96.5 years old and you sometimes can hear her say, "I don't know why the good Lord doesn't take me."  I guess this is natural when the senses begin to fail such as eyesight, hearing, and even touch.  Yet, when you see my grandboys nestle into her hug, run to show her something, or just go over to open the door for her to go outside with them, it is easy to recognize she has much left to give!  One thing I have observed over the years growing up with this great lady is how much "good" she always tried to do for others - sacrificially giving of herself for others in ways you might not have recognized until you sat back to see just how much her life impacted others.  She isn't a great author, for writing never came easy for her.  She isn't a whiz with numbers and able to give in-depth counsel as to how to invest your monies, but she invested what she had in consistent ways and has enough to see her through her "old age".  She didn't make it to America's Top Chef designation, but I still can remember the taste of the yummy pot roast, boiled potatoes and gravy, with the freshest of vegetables!  We ALL have a contribution to make in life, regardless of our "age", or our "designation" in life - we just need to remember to do what we can where we are, touch those lives which are around us, and "function" as we still have the ability to at this point in our lives.

Do good wherever you go. After a while, the good you do will come back to you. Invest what you have in several different things. You don’t know what bad things might happen on earth. There are some things you can be sure of. If clouds are full of rain, they will pour water on the earth. If a tree falls—to the south or to the north—then it will stay where it falls. But there are some things that you cannot be sure of. You must take a chance. If you wait for perfect weather, you will never plant your seeds. If you are afraid that every cloud will bring rain, you will never harvest your crops. You don’t know where the wind blows. And you don’t know how a baby grows in its mother’s womb. In the same way, you don’t know what God will do—and he makes everything happen. (Ecclesiastes 11:1-5 ERV)

One very important lesson mom taught over the years was this idea of "taking a chance" on occasion.  It was usually a very precarious moment in time, when uncertainty was all around, and fear was rising within - this is when we'd have heard the reminder that we need to be willing to take a chance now and again in our lives.  Mom and Dad lost all their savings long before the FDIC (the insurance agency which insures banking investments) came into being.  Their local bank was robbed and all their assets were lost to them.  They had to recuperate from that loss, making their way back into financial solvency through hard work and much effort.  Later in life, they were swindled by a not so great investment firm, taking away much of their retirement savings.  Yet, one thing I always saw in their lives was this willingness to take a chance.  They didn't just pull out all their monies and tuck it into the seam of the mattress!  Yep, they took what they learned from each experience and then they took another chance down the road.  Most chances served them well, but even those which the outsider may have thought did not serve them at all had a benefit we might not have realized on the surface.  My parents became wiser, worked even that much harder, and more importantly, became "closer" in relationship because of the hardships they endured.  They allowed the "pressure" to bring them closer, instead of driving them apart.  

Most of the lessons my parents taught over the years have been because they were willing to take chances.  Those are the similar lessons I passed onto my own children - those moments when I took chances myself and either prospered, or learned great lessons in the end.  Some of those chances were "relational", others were quite "practical".  It doesn't matter where the chances are "taken" - it matters that we "took" them!  I like what Solomon says here: "If you wait for perfect weather, you will never plant your seeds."  Chew on that one a while if you are one of those individuals who think the "stars must align" or the conditions must be "perfect" in order for you to move on a matter.  You just don't know what blessings and actual growth you may have missed in the waiting!  The truth is - nobody enjoys "perfect conditions" in their lives 100% of the time!  Not every seed will sprout, but a seed not planted is nothing more than a seed!  We don't know what God will do with whatever it is we "sow" in life, but we can count on the reality than a seed not sown is not going to be able to do as much as the seed which is!

There are some people who just cannot take the first step in the direction they know they are being asked to travel - almost frozen in place by their fear of the unknown.  I once was like that - kind of "unbelieving".  It wasn't easy to break past my fears and take the first step.  It almost creates this "tension" between the anxiety you feel about the "unknown" and the hope you have that things can be "different" if you just get up enough courage to take that first step.  It may be difficult to take the first step, but remember this - even the tree falling in the forest isn't doing it outside of God's attentive eye.  He purposes where that tree will land, how it will become "one" with the environment in which it falls, and the purpose it has in where it has fallen.  The hand of God is with us in each step we take, even when we don't see or feel him with us.  We just need to trust he will be there to help us when we do "take our chances" with whatever it is we are feeling impressed to do.  We may not get it "right" the first time we try it, but when we at least take the first step, he is able to help us along to the next!  Just sayin!