Monday, August 24, 2009

The seed and the harvest

I saw this quote at the bottom of Andrea's blog tonight:

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant."
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Reading that, it hit me – a “boom, bang crash, open-your-eyes, ah-ha moment” kind of hit me.

I wasn't a harvester.

So much of my trip to Korr was wonderful. Incredible. Amazing. Words can not describe. But there were some things that were really hard. Disappointing at times. Frustrating. Things that caused me to doubt my role, to doubt myself.

- Helping to clarify rules and expectations for teachers based on the needs I saw.
- Revamping (and sticking to) a much needed student discipline program.
- Living in the shadow of two previous short termers who made a HUGE influence and connected in a big way with these kids relationally – the kids talked abut them non-stop throughout my stay (good work, girls! You made SUCH an impact on these kids!).
- Meaning what I say and following though with discipline. It doesn’t always make for warm fuzzies in the classroom. Um, understatement of the century.
- Trying to teach by example what following through on discipline actually means, but often ending up looking like the strictest, most meanie-pants teacher in the school.
- Forever trying to correct a warped view of forgiveness that leaves no room for taking responsibility for behaviour. “Madam, why can’t you just forgive him? God tells us we should forgive others!” Argh! Yes! But God also tells us that our actions have consequences!
- Wanting so much to develop good relationships with the kids but having some kids so angry at me they wouldn’t speak to me for a week, and others who just don’t understand why I have to rock the boat and call kids out on misbehaviour. And then wondering how that all reconciles with the African high view of relationship – doing everything you can to NOT break the relationship.
- Feeling at times like a failure in relationships because of such a gap in what I was expecting and what actually God had for me to do.

And perhaps the hardest thing of all – DEFINITELY the most important - was trying to re-shape the kids’ view of what it takes to be saved. Over and over and over the kids would tell me that to be accepted by God they had to do lots and lots of good things. Noooo! Salvation is FREE! Grace costs US nothing because it cost Christ EVERYTHING! We are loved more than we could ever imagine simply because of who we ARE , not for what we do or don’t do! How I longed for that burden of "good works" to fall of their slumped and sagging shoulders!

I didn't see the harvest of so much of my work there. I may never see it. But I realized tonight that the harvest isn't really mine, anyway. The harvest is God's. He may use someone else to bring it in; He may bring it in Himself. But if I want everything I do to be ultimately for His glory, then I don't have to see the harvest. I just have to plant the seeds.

My eyes were opened to a new way of seeing some of those frustrations tonight.

Seeds of excellence in teaching. Seeds of responsibility for behaviour. Seeds of understanding when it comes to forgiveness and salvation. Seeds of faith. Seeds of truth.

Yeah. Sometimes planting those seeds was hard. It hurt. It wasn't always what I thought my job would be. But it was the job God had for me to do, and He sustained me. He gave me wisdom, He gave me strength. He gave me grace. And tonight He reminded me to trust. To trust Him that He gave me the work that needed to be done. To trust Him that he can take the broken work I did and make it good. To trust Him that He was working before I got there, while I was there, and will continue to keep working now that I'm gone. And to trust Him that one day there will be a harvest.

Thank you, Father, that your vision is so much bigger than mine, and that you are faithful, even when we don't get to see the result of our work. Thank you that You are the God of the harvest.

And thank you for the privilege of planting the seeds.


Wow. I stopped writing just before I hit publish to take a phone call, and when I did, I thought my post was finished. Before making it back to my computer, though, I got distracted by some cards my fabulously thoughtful and wonderful friend Sarah sent me for my trip. They didn't get to me in time to take them with me when I left, so I have the cards now at my house. I pulled one out of the pile to open. Here is what I read. Gee... you think God maybe knew I needed to read this tonight?????
Do It Anyway
By Roy Lessin

Others may not notice your efforts or give you recognition for something you've done. The credit may even go to someone else.
Do it anyway, as unto Me,
for I am pleased by your service and will honor your obedience.

There may be times when a job you've done will be rejected. Something you have prepared may be canceled or delayed.
Do it anyway, as unto Me,
for I see all things and will bless the work of your hands.

You may do your very best, and yet fail. You may sacrifice time and money to help someone and receive no word of thanks.
Do it anyway, as unto Me,
for I am your reward and will repay you.

There may be times when you go out of your way to include others and later have them ignore you. You may be loyal on your job, and yet someone else is promoted ahead of you.
Do it anyway, as unto Me,
for I will not fail you or make you be ashamed.

You may forgive others, only to have them hurt you again. You may reach out in kindness, only to have someone use you.
Do it anyway, as unto Me,
for I know your heart and will comfort you.

You may speak the truth but be considered wrong by others. You may do something with good intentions and be completely misunderstood.
Do it anyway, as unto Me,
for I understand and will not disappoint you.

There may be times when keeping your word means giving up something you want to do. There may be times when commitment means sacrificing personal pleasure.
Do it anyway, as unto Me,
for I am your Friend, and will bless you with My Presence.

Indeed, He will. Indeed, He has.


sarah cool said...

I cannot BELIEVE you read that one tonight. I think God definitely planned that one, girl.

Shan said...

And I can't believe I just read a "Roy Lessin" on your blog way up there in Canada! I just saw him today as I drove through my lazy downtown. He IS one of the founders of Dayspring Cards where my hubby and countless others work here in town. He is also my friend Lydia's dad. He is those things on top of being a gifted writer and wonderful man of God. :)