Planting Seed

Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plant their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest.
Psalm 126:5-6 NLT

What are we planting? I don’t mean physical seeds, like carrots for a crop later in the year. Or perhaps an orange pip, in the forlorn hope it will grow into a tree here in Scotland. No, we can plant lots of other things. Positive things like good advice. A school teacher instilling an education into often unwilling pupils. A minister preaching the good seed of the Kingdom from the pulpit. But we can also plant negatives in the way we speak to people, or the opinions we populate social media with. There has been many a child, or adult even,  driven into depression or a poor opinion of themselves, or worse, by bullies and trolls planting negative seeds about them on Facebook or the like.

When I read these two verses I immediately thought of the times parents plant seeds in their children. Seeds of good advice. Seeds of discipline. Seeds of life. And so often they are planted in tears, to a rebellious child or teenager exhibiting all the qualities of stony ground. Planting in tears. My wife and I fostered difficult children for many years. We certainly shed many tears as we tried to plant good seeds in lives so overgrown by the harvest from bad seed that there was little room for a good harvest. But with some, the good seed prevailed and we are in contact with several children, now grown up, who have produced a good harvest. Harvesting in joy indeed.

In our pilgrimage through life, we will come up against many attempts by others to plant seeds in us. Both good and bad. We need discernment and faith, to ensure that we only receive good seed. But we also need to be careful about what seeds we are planting in others.  The Bible is a book full of good seed. And we plant this seed in any opportunity that comes our way. Tell someone that Jesus loves them. Good seed. Tell someone that Jesus heals. More good seed. And these seeds will grow in someone’s heart, producing a harvest of great joy. We need to start in our spiritual potting sheds, culturing seeds through prayer, through Scripture, getting ready for the season of planting. Afterwards, we may never see the harvest – someone else will perhaps experience the joy. But we plant anyway. One day we may be very surprised seeing people in whom we tearfully planted seeds standing with us in Jesus’ presence. A good harvest worthy of a song or two?

Tears in a Bottle

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book.” Psalms‬ ‭56:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Why would the Psalmist write that God collects all his tears in a bottle? To modern readers that will seem a bit strange, but in David’s day, as well as in other periods in history, there was apparently a custom of collecting tears, there being a variety of containers available for such a use. They were called lachrymatories and perhaps were a part of funeral arrangements.

But what did David mean when he wrote this verse? And is it relevant today? I think it first of all points to an intimate relationship between David and his Heavenly Father. At every opportunity he came into God’s presence, sharing what was happening at the time. The good times and well as the bad times. The times of laughter and joy, as well as the times of sorrow and grief. In this verse David was sharing a time of sadness, noting that God was keeping track of all the times a similar situation had occurred in his life. When this Psalm was written, David had been captured by the Philistines – the story can be found in 1  Samuel 21. He realised that he wasn’t in a safe place and pretended to be insane to escape. But in the midst of all this there was one place in which he couldn’t be touched – God’s presence.

So do we think that God keeps a register of all our sorrows? I think that depends on our relationship with Him. David had a full-on relationship with God – nothing held back, good or bad. But what about us? Is our relationship to God limited to a weekly recital of the Lord’s Prayer followed by a couple of hymns? Or do we too, like David, chatter away to our loving Heavenly Father at every opportunity, sharing our life with Him? Perhaps David spent more times in Heavenly places than on Planet Earth. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is a short verse, and it encourages us to, “Pray without ceasing“. I don’t believe it means we supply God with a continual shopping list of prayers. Rather, we must, like David, develop a conversational and intimate relationship – call it prayer if you like – with our Heavenly Father. Sharing all that is happening to us in our sinful world and receiving the encouragement and advice we need for living. And like David we too will, “….walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭56:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬.