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Reaping an eternal reward

September 22, 2008

by Rev. Bill Hillyer, Saving Grace Lutheran Church, Delano

Last week, as I was driving into the Cities, there it was – flaming orange and yellow, standing out from all the others. I’m talking about the first maple tree I’ve seen this year that has changed colors.

It was the first sign that things are changing. Later, I noticed that even the corn is starting to change color as harvest time nears.

Growing up in Nebraska, I don’t feel at home unless there are fields of corn somewhere close by. The cornfields always let one know the season of the year – the tiny green sprouts sticking out of the black soil mark the passing of winter and spring’s arrival. Green stalks and the whine of irrigation pumps mark summer. The yellow and brown stalks with pheasants always nearby let us know that fall had arrived. And of course, the stubble of harvested corn announce winter’s long stand.

The seasons and rhythm of each year are indeed marked by the activities of the farmers in small farming communities: sowing and reaping.

Now that school is back in session, city people also feel the rhythm of life and see sowing and reaping at work in their children’s lives. At the end of the year, students will reap all the hard work sown in them by their teachers and the school staff.

We reap what we sow. We reap the benefits of a job well done at work or at home. We reap the benefits of pouring our lives into the lives of our spouses and children. And even in our spiritual lives, we reap what we sow.

In the parable of the sower (Mark chapter 4), Jesus tells the story of a farmer who sowed seed on several types of soil. As the farmer threw his seed, it was bound to fall in several areas – some fell on the path he walked, some fell on rocky patches and among thorn bushes, and some eventually made it to the good soil that he had prepared for the seed.

Many parents have good intentions once school is back in session. Every summer people tell me that once their kids are back in school, they will be back in church. “Too much going on this summer,” they explain.

But these good intentions are like the seed that fell on the path. Jesus explained that Satan comes and steals away the Word that is in people. If we want our children to grow up as followers of Christ, parents need to take their children to church and Sunday school as often as possible. Otherwise, the enemy will steal all of God’s Word from their lives that he can.

This is what the seed thrown on rocky soil is like. The seeds sprout, but only for a short time because they have no place to sink their roots into. Many well-meaning believers think that because their parents took them to Sunday school as children, or because they were confirmed in eighth grade, their faith is secure. But, just like the rocky soil, our faith can also wither and die without us even knowing it if we don’t take care to find fertile ground for our faith to grow.

Jesus must have known that life in the 21st century would be busy and that parents would have a hard time just keeping up with life! He said that the thorny soil is like worries of life, the deceitful pleasures of riches, and the desires for other things. These things, Jesus noted, choke out God’s Word so that it can’t produce anything in our lives.

Today, even our children are busier than ever, and parents need to continually remember to pray with children, have family devotions together, and worship together as a family. Otherwise, this busy world can choke out all that is truly most important in our children’s lives – a relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thankfully, the Lord is never too busy for us!

This morning I could see that the soybeans in the field near our house are starting to turn yellow as their life cycle nears maturity. Oh, the seasons and rhythms of life are still the same as they were when I grew up – they just seem to go so much faster!

Mom and Dad, take the time this weekend to sow into your family things that are of eternal value. Let this be the season that the seed of God’s Word sprouts and grows in your life so that you can reap the eternal reward that comes with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.