Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Softening the Hardest Earth

It wasn't but two months ago when my trio of little monsters skipped through the bright, disinfected halls of the local nursing home.  Their energy and eagerness was hard to rein in as they sought to give a gift of comfort to each man and woman they came in contact with.

Every few seconds, each child returned to my side to dig deep in the garbage bag I held, searching for a favorite beanie baby.  Then, hands full, they were off again, bursting through someone else's open door to deliver a handful of love.

One lady's wall was covered with more cat posters than I had ever before seen.  In the bed nearest the door lay her husband, catnapping despite the conversation taking place around him.  When my eldest son Wyatt approached his bed, I protested, whispering that he would awaken the man.  Still, he turned and gently placed the offering atop the man's chest, ever so careful to not awaken him as I held my breath.

Down the halls we went until our bag was empty and our hearts were full. As Wyatt said, "I feel all warm in my heart."

Since then, the children have mentioned this occasion numerous times, confirming to this mother that it made quite an impact on them.  It was just one in a long list of acts of kindness done for the sole purpose of showing Jesus' love to others.  Many times I think we have been blessed much more than those we set out to bless in the first place.

Like many who labor for the kingdom, I rarely see the result of any of these ministries that my family does.  For instance, I have prayerwalked the subdivisions around our community since August 2011; yet, I know of not one person who has been saved as a direct result of my prayers or tracts I have left on the doors. The same is true of my teaching ESL.

So imagine my surprise this past Sunday when a dear friend came to me with eyes shining in excitement to tell me how a man in the nursing home had just last week given his heart to Jesus.

She told me his story and the miracle of how this once mean, grouchy man had overnight transformed into a man filled with joy, one who had even gone to all the workers at the home to ask their forgiveness for how he had mistreated them.

Then, she asked, "Do you know who his first contact was?"

I shook my head, thinking maybe our pastor or another elderly gentleman from our church who often came with us each month.

"Wyatt."  she continued.  "He gave him a beanie baby."

I was stunned and ever so humbled that God would use the simple love of a child to pave the way for His glory.  

Wyatt had given him a silly stuffed animal, a gift of Jesus' love.  God had continued to work on that gentleman's heart as he underwent surgery, causing that man to seek truth in the Scriptures once he was well enough.  And then God had sent a Christian worker to lead his now-tender heart to saving faith in Jesus.

The apostle Paul spoke of this same manner of winning people to the Lord.  He writes, "What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building" (1 Cor. 3:5-9).

Some of us may scatter seeds.  Others of us may haul around a heavenly watering can.  

But God. 

God causes the growth.  

We laborers for Christ don't bring anyone to salvation.  But God graciously allows us to plant and water, to labor for the kingdom so that when someone does enter in through the narrow gate, we are able to rejoice that much the more.  

Let us not grow discouraged when we don't see the growth from our labors.  Instead, even if we never see the fruit, let us still continue fervently working in the harvest fields, believing by faith that just as Paul and Apollos sowed and watered two thousand years ago, we, too, are called to that same task.

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