Friday, 16 August 2013

Planting and Watering

Here in New Zealand it is slowly turning into spring. All kinds of flowers are suddenly blooming around my hometown, including lots of my favourites (daffodils!). In a matter of weeks, I am sure, our town will be filled with bright, cheerful colours ~ praise the Lord for spring, it surely is the best time of the year! :D 

Coincidentally (or rather, providentally!) the Lord recently brought to my attention a verse that I had never noticed before and seems to suit with flowers blossoming everywhere around me! Funny how it is like that, isn't it? Oh how often we skim through the scriptures, glossing over so much of it and taking very little in. This verse was in a chapter that I had certianly read many times before, and yet I could not recall ever taking it in or comprehending the truth inside it. So, to take you out of your suspense, here it is...
"What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth." ~ 1 Corinthians 3:5-7
This verse sure got me thinking recently. Particularly as the Lord has been convicting me a lot lately over my lack of speaking to others about Him. It's not just that I have a fear of man which seems to paralize me, but I am so scared of getting things wrong and misleading someone on a doctrinal issue or something similar. After all, I am always learning from scripture myself and the Lord is constantly changing me and my sinful ways and attitudes to be more conformed to Him. So the pride within me makes me feel woefully inadequate to share the Lord with anyone. But it's like knowing of an impending earthquake and not warning people about it, or like having a best friend and not telling anyone about them: over time it eats away inside you. This I have been feeling keenly recently, especially as at the beginning of the year the Lord blessed me with a group of new friends who have a real heart for sharing the Lord with others, and whose example has really challenged me on my complacency in this area. Sure, I do talk about the Lord, but now I've been noticing that it's usually around my Christian friends. May the Lord help me and help you too, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, to share the good news of His salvation with others! 

This verse reminded me that when we talk to others about the Lord, our focus really ought not to be on our own efforts and abilities or to try to "win" people over or "convert" them. It is the Lord who draws His people to Himself, and Him alone: we are His vessels whom He can use to His glory ~ and His glory is and ought to be the ultimate goal. That said, nor should we become complacent but rather our desire to see the Lord glorified should overtake us to the point where we cannot help but talk about Him to others. The fact that we are saved based purely upon His grace in sending His Son to die in our place ought to really humble us, and yet it should give us confidence to boldly talk to others about Him, in the knowledge that He ordains all things, be it a "vessel of wrath" or a "vessel of mercy":
"What if God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory - even us whom He has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?" ~ Romans 9:22-24
In other words, it is all His work and for His glory and so how much more grateful and bold we ought to be than we are! For all we know, though someone may seem highly opposed to the gospel, we may be "planting" a seed, letting them know about the Lord for the first time. Or the Lord may have brought into their life a series of people or events in order to draw them to Himself and so we are "watering", adding to what has already been sown. But what does Paul say? Who is important in the process? Not us, but God and His glory! Whether or not we see any person coming to Him when we share the gospel with them, it does not matter as His purposes WILL be fufilled, and we can't always see what the impact of talking to them now will have later down the track. And in the meantime, we can still be active - by praying for them!

Interestingly, I've been reading a book I borrowed from a friend's mother which addresses the issue of evangalism and reminds me of Romans 1:19-20. Written by Don Richardson, it examines the fact that cultures have a conciousness or awareness of God, prior to recieving the gospel. Apparently, it is a controversial book and I have not yet finished it so I cannot yet speak for it as a whole, and there are certianly aspects I don't necessarily wholly agree with, but nethertheless, I've been finding it a very challenging and convicting read regarding evangalism. Here is one quote I found particularly poignant:

"Do you not feel certian question rising now within you? It cannot be avoided - if the Almighty ordained God-and-Christ-foreshadowing metaphors and concepts to facilitate the redemptive process in one Gentile culture - that of Greeks - could He not have also manifested a similar providence within other Gentile cultures as well? Perhaps even in all of them?
In other words, has the God who prepared the gospel for the world also prepared the world for the gospel? If He has, than the current assumption, held by millions of believers and non-believers alike, that pagan people cannot understand and generally do not want to recieve the Christian gospel...must be a false assumption...God has indeed prepared the Gentile world to recieve the gospel. Significant numbers of non-Christians, therefore, have proved themselves 10 times more willing to recieve the gospel than Christians have been to share it!" ~ Don Richardson, Eternity in their Hearts
In other words, if God prepares men's hearts to recieve His word, how much more willing we should be to share it, regardless of how we feel they will react! Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, if you are anything like me you will feel like such a failure ~ even as I write this I think to my shame of how few people I have shared the gospel with, I'm sure I would be easily able to count the total on one hand. May we pray earnestly to God to give us the boldness to speak to others!

As an aside, several things happened just this week that kind of tie in with this whole topic (amazing how the Lord does that!) :)

Several earthquakes occured this afternoon, one that was slightly above magnitude 6 on the richter scale (eek!) and two aftershocks actually occured as I was in the process of writing this. A good reminder from the Lord that much as we'd like to think we're in control of everything, we're really not and that one day He will come again in judgement, so we need to be telling others about Him now! You never know when it could be your last day, especially in an earthquake-ridden country like New Zealand! :P 

Also, I was stopped by a young woman who was doing some evangalism at the local university campus and she started talking to me. We had a brief but good talk and I think it would be great if you could pray for her as she talks to young students about the Lord. Please pray that hearts would be softened and that the Lord would be gracious in saving students whom she talks to.

Anyway, this is a super long blog post to make up for my lack of blogging lately, so congratulations if you managed to reach the end of it!!! Please pray that I would talk to others about the Lord and likewise I'll be praying that He gives you boldness!
God bless you as you serve Him!

Your sister in Christ,
P.S. The Gothard Sisters have another lovely music video out, called The Landing, which you may want to watch! It can be viewed here


Megan and Abby said...

It's so funny to read your comments about spring coming, even though here in the States, we're getting ready for autumn!

Such a challenging post! I am so guilty of not sharing Christ with those around me. I pray that as I grow this year in school I will be conformed to His image and be more willing to do His work.


Violet said...

Yes, that is quite funny! I find the reverse true ~ so many bloggers are from the US and so the seasons are always back to front when I read other blogs! I'll certianly pray that you'll be able to share the Lord with others and if you could pray the same for me that would be great as it's something I really struggle with!

God bless!

~ Violet