Christmas 2014. I grew up in South Africa where year-end is February 28, at least from a financial and tax perspective, which allows you to have Christmas holidays in financial denial. Here in the USA annual goals, finances, performance reviews, connecting with friends all get squeezed into the pre-Christmas funnel like reluctant ingredients in a Christmas fruitcake. Year-ends are therefore a particularly pensive time for me. Since I like to have the books reconciled and the year accounted for at the calendar close my days are generally not filled with Christmas stockings and mulled wine, but with taking stock and mulling over whether I have made progress this last year. Yesterday morning was different: I woke at about 3 AM wondering, “What progress have I made in the last decade?” I opened a file marked Journal:2002 to 2010 and scrolled to December 2004. Some of the things I longed for back then are still on my list… no apparent progress.
…I have told the Lord that the longing of my heart is a piece of land in California where we can live, maybe have teams come for equipping, mostly have places where our kids can live with us for seasons, and where our children and grandchildren can come, spend time, play on a swing under a tree, pick fresh fruit, and continue to generations of those who will be faithful.
In 2004, there were less me-focused things happening too, world events that would draw us into new places.
While I muse these things it would be remiss to not note that on December 26th the largest earthquake in decades, 9.0, hit Indonesia where they estimate about 150,000 have died, and tens of thousands remain unaccounted for. The islands roundabout experienced terrible destruction. The largest world relief effort ever is underway. Just today another 4,000 bodies have been pulled from rubble that is 6 feet high. The 100-foot wave traveled at 500 m.p.h and devastated Sri Lanka and other nations. One third of all children in Sri Lanka have died – the death toll there is 30,000. I lay in bed this morning thinking, “Couldn’t we have some businesses in a box that would be ready to plant in areas of such massive destruction where entire towns have to be rebuilt?” Lord, give me revelation into these things and what we can do in response, I pray.
Big dreams, but what has been accomplished? I could add up the new cities since 2004 – Jakarta, Johannesburg, Chennai, Kochi, Lagos, Knysna – and the people – hundreds of people, maybe thousands. Today, however, I needed a context-setting scripture. I opened my iPad and there was a text I highlighted recently:
He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him.
This has been a theme verse for my wife, Lyn, who speaks of sorrow seed as producing the best harvest. I dug into the meaning of original words in this stanza and have paraphrased what I see there:
Practitioners of righteousness
who keep plodding with a bag of seed
that seems to have a hole
even through humiliation and tears
leave a trail of offspring
and are brought back
lifted up like those returning from exile.
The seed we have sown these last 10 years has doubtless produced. My job is to plod, holes in my bags, accepting the fact that what is poured in scatters out, more looking back over my shoulder for progeny along the path than forward for seeds in my storehouse.