Saturday, January 10, 2015

The patience of farmers - James 5:7-8

"Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near." (James 5:7-8)
We live in an instant society where our every wants and needs can be immediately supplied. We can warm a meal in a microwave in minutes, get drive through service without ever leaving the car, and, in some places, online retailers are offering two hour delivery so we can want, order, and receive all before we ever leave our computers. We have become a society that no longer knows how to wait. We want something and we want it now! The same is true with our need to be active. We have so many things to fill up our time. Few of us can go the day without our iPod, DVD player, or some video game to spend our time on. Being bored and being OK with it is a long lost art. We are the active now generation and we expect our Christianity to be the same.

Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, God is not like us. He is not so much concerned with time as we are. He is not opposed to making us wait when waiting is in our own best interest. The writer of Hebrews spoke of those who went before us saying that we should, "not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises." (Hebrews 6:12) Often, faith is not enough, we must mix patience with our faith.

Many of those to whom James wrote were agrarian in nature. They worked the land and lived off the land and they understood the rhythm and cycles of plating and harvest. The same process and cycles happen in our lives. Jesus spoke a parable of the sowing of seed and the reaping of a harvest. "And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold." (Mark 4:20) Many of us have received the word of God into our lives but not all of us bring that word to fruition and bear the fruit of it unto harvest. The problem is not the sowing nor the reaping but the waiting in between.

In many places the scriptures refer to the early and later rains. "Let us now fear the Lord our God, Who gives rain in its season, both the autumn rain and the spring rain, Who keeps for us the appointed weeks of the harvest." (Jeremiah 5:24) The growing cycle, in that part of the world, included planting, the spring rains, the doldrums of summer, the autumn rains, and harvest. It starts out with a flourish and ends with a flourish but there is much time of waiting in between.

The same is true in our live. May times the working of God in our life is the same as that of the farmers in James' day. We start out all excited and we see God moving in every place and at every time. We believe in a bountiful harvest in the end, but when the excitement of it all wears off, we grow weary in waiting, Many people start off well, but when they fail to see immediate fruit from their new belief or their new commitment to God's word and their obedience to it, they give up and fail to wait for the later rains. They sow seeds and expect immediately to pluck fruit, but life is not this way. Often, while sowing good seed, we must still pull up weeds we have sown in the past until the harvest of our new seeds takes hold. Change takes time and the Word of God takes time to bring forth its fruit. In the in between times, between the spring and autumn rains, we must continue in our good works, waiting patiently for the later rains and the promised harvest to come. We must remember and put into practice the words of Paul. "For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." (Galatians 6:8-9)

David Robison

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