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Summary: God will bring about incredible yields when we sow our lives in faith, trust, and hope. Putting all our trust in God promises blessings beyond imagination.

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Plant in Faith, Harvest in Joy

Matthew 13:1-9

July 10, 2005

I want to tell you a story about Bill and Helen, two people now well into their eighties, who have a faith that is rock solid and which serves as an example for any who come to know them.

About twenty years ago, Helen was scheduled for some surgery. It was not complicated, nor especially dangerous. She was expected to make a full, complete, and speedy recovery. Still, any surgery is not to be taken lightly and Bill had his share of anxiety.

His pastor was with him in the waiting room. Trying to keep the right balance of concern and light-heartedness, the pastor said to Bill, “Wouldn’t it be nice if life was easy and we didn’t have to face stuff like this?” It was then that Bill told a story.

He had met Helen in High School. They had been voted the couple most likely to be married. But World War II intervened. Immediately following his graduation from High School, he was inducted into the army and sent to the Pacific Theater. He missed all the big battles: Leyte, Saipan, Okinawa. The biggest battle however, lay ahead; the invasion of Japan. He was on a troop ship steaming toward Tokyo, afraid of what was to come, dreaming of home, hoping against hope that this would soon be over. Then came the mushroom cloud which stilled the guns and put an end to the war.

He returned home to the waiting arms of Helen. They were married and Bill enrolled in college. Even with the GI bill, it was difficult making ends meet. He worked the evening shift in a textile mill after classes were finished for the day. Helen worked as a legal secretary. But they made it. He graduated and got a job teaching at the High School level.

He turned out to love teaching and was very good at it. He thoroughly enjoyed his students and they thought very highly of him. It wasn’t too many years until he was asked if he would like to become the school’s principal. When he took the job, he became the youngest principal in the state.

They had two children during those years. Life was good. They were successful and able to give their children all the benefits of a strong, loving family.

Bill began to have a dream of teaching on the collegiate level. To do that, he knew that he would need a Ph.D. So he talked it over with Helen and they decided that he would resign his job and the whole family would move several hundred miles away to a university town where he could complete his education.

The road to a Ph.D is a long and hard one, but he persevered, worked hard, and graduated. Following graduation, Bill moved directly into a university classroom to teach, and steadily rose through the professorial ranks. It was during this time that he and Helen decided to have another child.

After she was born, it became clear that their youngest daughter was not developing certain cognitive abilities as she was expected to do. A number of doctors were consulted and she was finally diagnosed with a learning disability. Over the years, they loved and supported her, finding specialized schooling and training. It was a long and sometimes frustrating road, but she finally graduated from high school, beating the odds against which few had given her a chance.

Now he sat in a hospital waiting room while Helen was under a surgeon’s scalpel. He looked at his pastor to answer the question. “Show me a person who has never had to face adversity,” he said, “and I’ll show you a flower that will never bloom.” (story taken from “Life-Rails: Holding Fast to God’s Promises.” 1987. Scott Walker. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. pages 10-15). You see, seeds which are sown in hope will bloom and prosper.

Some of the greatest joys that I have had as a pastor have come when I have talked to people who have kept their faith even though going through tragedy and hardship. In every church that I have served, there have been those who have told me stories about friends and acquaintances who don’t understand how one can keep one’s trust in God alive when he or she has not been spared the slings and arrows of adversity.

Their answers are always pretty much the same. Yes, hardships come and go, they say, but God is good all the time. Psalm 126:5 says, “May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.” “The Message” says, “so those who planted crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest.” God’s promise of abundance, while sometimes difficult to perceive, is nonetheless real at the harvest.

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