READ: Luke 14
THINK: “Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.” – Luke 14:23
We make so many excuses for not going out to the roads and the country lanes, to our schools, our workplaces, and our neighborhoods and compelling those around us to come in. We have so many reasons, that we can always justify within our own minds, for why we don’t need to go out and share our faith. We constantly have excuses for why the Great Commission to “go and make disciples” doesn’t apply to us, for why Jesus parable in Luke 14 was about somebody else. Why? Because we’re afraid. We’re deathly afraid that sowing the seeds of the gospel in our world might cost us something. And we’re not willing to pay the price. Our self-centered, materialistic American ethos conflict directly with Jesus statement in Luke 14:33 that we must give up everything if we want to be his disciples. So we twist his words in a way that allows us to be comfortable believing that everything doesn’t really mean everything.
I don’t say this heap guilt on you. I say it to force you to take an honest look at the truth of your life and your walk with Christ. How many people have you told about Jesus in the last week? Month? Year? Decade?
It will absolutely cost you something to sow the seeds of the gospel. If Jesus is to be believed (spoiler alert: I think he is) it will cost you everything. But here’s the catch: I think it’s worth it. I think what we’re getting by giving up everything for Jesus is immeasurably better than what we’re giving up. Even if it isn’t easy. Even if it’s painful. Psalm 126:5 says that, “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.”
Del Tarr, a missionary to Africa, tells the following story: “In the Sahel [area of the Sahara Desert], all the moisture comes in a four month period: May, June, July, and August. After that, not a drop of rain falls for eight months. The ground cracks from dryness, and so do your hands and feet. The winds of the Sahara pick up the dust and throw it thousands of feet into the air. It then comes slowly drifting across West Africa as a fine grit. It gets inside your mouth. It gets inside your watch and stops it. The year’s food, of course, must all be grown in those four months. People grow sorghum or milo in small fields.
October and November…these are beautiful months. The granaries are full – the harvest has come. People sing and dance. They eat two meals a day. The sorghum is ground between two stones to make flour and then a mush with the consistency of yesterday’s Cream of Wheat. The sticky mush is eaten hot; they roll it into little balls between their fingers, drop it into a bit of sauce and then pop it into their mouths. The meal lies heavy on their stomachs so they can sleep.
December comes, and the granaries start to recede. Many families omit the morning meal. Certainly by January not one family in fifty is still eating two meals a day. By February, the evening meal diminishes. The meal shrinks even more during March and children succumb to sickness. You don’t stay well on half a meal a day.
April is the month that haunts my memory. In it you hear the babies crying in the twilight. Most of the days are passed with only an evening cup of gruel.
Then, inevitably, it happens. A six-or seven-year-old boy comes running to his father one day with sudden excitement. “Daddy! Daddy! We’ve got grain!” he shouts. “Son, you know we haven’t had grain for weeks.” “Yes, we have!” the boy insists. “Out in the hut where we keep the goats — there’s a leather sack hanging up on the wall — I reached up and put my hand down in there — Daddy, there’s grain in there! Give it to Mommy so she can make flour, and tonight our tummies can sleep!”
The father stands motionless. “Son, we can’t do that,” he softly explains. “That’s next year’s seed grain. It’s the only thing between us and starvation. We’re waiting for the rains, and then we must use it.” The rains finally arrive in May, and when they do the young boy watches as his father takes the sack from the wall and does the most unreasonable thing imaginable: Instead of feeding his desperately weakened family, he goes to the field and with tears streaming down his face, he takes the precious seed and throws it away. He scatters it in the dirt! Why? Because he believes in the harvest!
The seed is his; he owns it. He can do anything with it he wants. The act of sowing it hurts so much that he cries. But as the African pastors say when they preach on Psalm 126, “Brother and sisters, this is God’s law of the harvest. Don’t expect to rejoice later on unless you have been willing to sow in tears.” And I want to ask you: How much would it cost you to sow in tears? I don’t mean just giving God something from your abundance, but finding a way to say, “I believe in the harvest, and therefore I will give what makes no sense. The world would call me unreasonable to do this – but I must sow regardless, in order that I may someday celebrate with songs of joy.””
PRAY: Confess that you’ve made a lot of excuses in your lifetime for not sharing Christ with people. If you’re willing, give him everything today – completely surrender to him. Ask him to open your eyes to the opportunities around you. And then get out there onto the “roads and country lanes” of your life and share Christ with a desperate world in need of a Savior.
I am in tears after reading this utterly compelling reflection…..knowing how very little I have given for the cause of Christ…..