Today the field that meets my backyard was being prepared for planting. I loved watching the soil get turned up and changed from a dull brown to a deep earthy brown. The path the tractor took was clear as the lines of dark brown got closer and closer until finally the entire field was turned over and ready for planting. Soon, new life will be peaking out of the evenly spaced rows and I’ll get to watch them grow into a bountiful harvest for the farmer.
Sometimes I feel like that dry, dusty field just sitting there waiting for the season to change. I’ve always loved the verse in Matthew that talks about the harvest being plentiful and the workers being few. This is widely known as a “missions verse” and it was one of the verses that motivated me to get my Intercultural Studies and Master of Arts degrees and go through the Consecration process with my denomination in preparation of being a missionary.
I have to admit, there are times I feel guilty for abandoning this call of missions on my life. Now I KNOW that my call has not changed; what has changed is the way it is being fulfilled. My life isn’t what I imagined it to be, but it’s good. God is bringing to completion the dreams He laid on my heart so many years ago. I find it amusing (when I’m in the right mood) that my dreams are being fulfilled in God’s perfect way, a way that is so different from what I imagined. I shouldn’t be surprised this is how God works! He just wants a willing heart. Once He has that, He will use you to accomplish His plans in His own special way.
Today I looked up that verse in Matthew again and what struck me was not the “missions verse” I know so well, but the words that come right before it. In the New American Standard Bible, Matthew 9:36-38 says:
Seeing the people, He [Jesus] felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”
When we feel like that dry, dusty field, Jesus has compassion on us. He sees our distress and He knows we are dispirited and feel lost. We’re wandering around like lost sheep, but the incredible news is that Jesus is our Good Shepherd! No matter how far we’ve wandered off, He will find us. In John 10:14-15 (ESV) Jesus tells us, “I am the good shepherd. I know My own and My own know me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
Your life probably doesn’t look like you imagined. Sickness can steal many things. It can try to steal our hopes and dreams, but we can put up a fight! How do we do this? We give God our heart. We give Him our heart and our lives when we accept His gift of salvation and decide to love and follow Him. We can give God our heart by loving Him, but we also need to give Him our willing heart - a heart that desires to do and be all that He dreamed for us.
I believe God gave us our hopes and dreams for a reason. The dream of being a missionary made me take many steps I wouldn’t have taken without that dream. That dream made me the person I am today and prepared me for the ways God is using me today. I don’t think we have to give up our dreams, but I do think we need to give up our expectations. We need to give our dreams back to God and ask Him to fulfill them however He sees best. Sometimes He will give us back a new dream and other times He will fulfill our dreams in ways that we can’t begin to imagine.
Will you follow the Good Shepherd wherever He takes you? Will you let Him turn your dry, dusty field into a field ready for planting? God wants to reap a bountiful harvest from your life. Will you let Him, in His own special way?
“The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about Him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at Him and people turned away. We looked down on Him, thought He was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains He carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought He brought it on Himself, that God was punishing Him for His own failures. But it was our sins that did that to Him, that ripped and tore and crushed Him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through His bruises we get healed. We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on Him, on Him.” ~ Isaiah 53:2-6, The Message