Saying “Yes” comes naturally to born optimists. We wake up smiling, bound out of bed, and say “yes” to the day. But others of us are more cautious. “No” is our first response to the day’s demands, starting with our alarm clock. Groan. Crash.
I know what you’re thinking. Just because someone is a morning person doesn’t mean she is better at life and love and happiness than the next person. It’s perfectly alright not to hit your stride until mid-morning. Isn’t that what second pots–I mean cups–of coffee are for?
Now hear me out. I’m not addressing our bedtime habits or chastising the night owls among us, I’m talking about our knee jerk response to life–how we let our feelings push and pull us through our day.
Instead of letting them boss us around, I’m asking us to stop. And consider. Yes, consider.
Practically speaking, how we’re going to make new commitments for the fall. That’s what we’ve been talking about this month. ‘Tis the season for being asked to volunteer. The baton is being passed and shoulders are being tapped. What are you going to do? Go with your gut? Or hit the pause button and consider.
‘Tis the season for being asked to volunteer.
Specifically, what factors are you going to consider as you make your decision?
Considering the Field
You are about to make an investment of your time. Your energy. Your life force. If you were being ask to invest some money in a new venture, you wouldn’t let that fast talking entrepreneur sweep you into a hasty decision. Instead you would ask him for the balance sheets, consider the profit/loss ratio and assess your current ability to take a risk.
You would not say “yes” because you’re a natural optimist or “no” because you’re a nit-picker. (Though never underestimate the value of a good nit picker…somebody’s got to pick those buggers. It’s the only way to stop the lice infestation at the preschool). No, you would say “yes” because you’re convinced it’s a solid opportunity for profitable investment. It makes sense. You’d be foolish to pass it up.
You’re right on track. That’s precisely the kind of wisdom Solomon passes on to us in his final chapter of Proverbs. He sums up 30 chapters of proverbs by creating an imaginary Wise Woman. Lady Wisdom, we’ll call her, is a literal A B C of sensible planning. In other words, it takes every letter of the Hebrew alphabet to enumerate her daily habits.
However, we’re just going to focus on one verse:
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.Proverbs 31:16
Between the field and the vineyard, there’s an entire story tucked within these few words.
Seeing the Potential
What does the wise woman do first? She doesn’t just look, she sees. She ponders the field for a while, considering its pros and cons. And what do you think she saw? What might be some of the pros and cons on her two-column list?
As her eyes surveyed the field she saw two things: the boundaries and the potential. Certainly she saw the boundaries. Who can miss the fence around the field? But instead, she focused on the field. The potential of the field was in the soil. How nutrient rich was it? Could it be cultivated? How much might it yield?
It takes eyes of faith to see the potential in a field of dirt. For years my daily walk took me past a large field. In the winter it looked gray and dead. But in the spring the tractors plowed it, turning up fresh soil. Next came the combine seeders, Combine seeders scattering the seed in neat rows, irrigation kept it soft.
Before long I saw a haze of green on top of the dirt. Then growing and spreading, the seedlings turned the brown rows vibrant. You couldn’t have imagined it a week before. Now you couldn’t imagine it any other way.
The wise woman sees the green–by faith–before it comes. Who is she trusting? Hidden behind the words of this short Proverb is the One who causes the rain to fall and the sun to shine. She is counting on God to work as she works.
Saying Yes To the Harvest
What about you? Remember, ’tis the season for being asked to volunteer. As you consider each request, you will need to say “no” more often than “yes.” Our limits are more real than we tend to think. But what will you say “yes” to? Into what field will you choose to sow good seed?
Once you’ve chosen your field, a second question remains–the one that causes eager gardeners to rub their hands with glee as they study seed packets at the local nursery. What seed will you sow in the ground God has given you this year?
What seed will you sow in the ground God has given you this year?
Seeds don’t look like much. For instance, words of encouragement to a struggling student just take a moment. So do quiet tears of prayer for a rebellious teenager. Not to mention hidden moments of self-restraint that turn your angry reaction into a quiet question. Yet, these are seeds of righteousness, every one of them. Saying “yes” to righteousness in the moment takes faith–faith in the Righteous One who sees and counts the smallest acts faith.
But sowing this kind of seed is so worth it. Why? Because when we say “yes” to the sowing, we say “yes” to the harvest, long before faith becomes sight. We’re counting on those seeds of righteousness producing a bumper crop. Sometimes we might have to wait longer than we thought for the harvest. But saying yes to the Lord of the harvest while you’re sowing, means the harvest is in his mighty hands.
This post is Part 4 of a 4-part series on Kingdom Productivity.