“Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” (Ecclesiastes 11:4, NLT)
In order to reap the benefits of happiness, we must first plant the seeds.
Methodist Bishop Arthur Kulah was instrumental in establishing #BJCCV Ministry. He said, “In America, we wait until every plan is precise, every option explored and reactions predicted before we move. In Liberia, we’ve learned that if we’re every going to move ahead, we have to risk stepping into the unknown. Yes, we sometimes have to step back and start over, but at least we are moving and doing something, and God blesses that.” FAITH, HOPE, LOVE.
So often we engage in “when/then” thinking. The gist being when ‘A’ happens, then we’ll do ‘B.’ There’s a certain comfort in “knowing” that all conditions are “perfect” before we take on a task. The problem we face, however, is that we rarely (if ever) encounter perfection. Farmers who wait for “perfect” conditions never sow. If we never sow, we can never reap.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Faith is trusting God in the moment and believing that He can see the things that lie far beyond our field of vision. A biblical example can be found in Exodus 13:21. God told the Israelites during their exodus journey to follow the cloud by day and flame by night (Exodus 13:21). That’s hard.
This morning in church, Pastor Sean read from Paul’s Letters to the Philippians, verses 3:4-14*. Of my notes from the sermon: Everything we’ve ever learned has come from our struggle. We BECOME who we ARE as we wrestle with life’s challenges. When life beats us up, we are sometimes left with SCARS that tug at our HEARTS’ WOUNDS. We are, all of us, a culmination of all of our life experiences: the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY. The things in life that most CHALLENGE us can become our greatest BLESSINGS. Or, our wounds can paralyze us and keep us stuck. We can choose FAITH or we can choose FEAR. The apostle Paul chose faith, and in doing so, affected change all over the world.
Paul was famously converted on the road to Damascus. Precluding his conversion, Paul assisted in the murder of one of the Lord’s disciples, Stephen. Luke describes Paul’s involvement in the book of Acts 6 – 8:1. He inflicted suffering on others and suffered himself. His suffering inspired action. Paul, ultimately, traveled tens of thousands of miles around the Mediterranean spreading the word of Jesus Christ. He is considered the co-founder of Christianity. In choosing faith over fear, Paul crafted love from heartbreak, compassion from shame, grace from disappointment, courage from failure.
God loves us so much he gives us a choice. We can choose faith or we can choose fear but we can’t have both. If we lived in a world where faith wasn’t necessary, we wouldn’t need faith. God could have given us a roadmap to get to the promised land, but God wants us to make the most of our journey in order to get the most out of the destination.
When we put our trust in God, we choose to act, even when things might not be perfect. If we wait for perfection, we’ll never act. If we don’t act, we won’t reap the benefits. We have to plant in order to harvest, and it is the harvest we long to see.
So, let’s get to work! Let’s choose faith, hold steadfast to hope and trust God with every step of the way.
*Interestingly: forms of the noun “joy” and verb “rejoice” occurs 16 times in this short letter. Philippians is the biblical book that most extensively defines and describes joy.