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reaping where we did not sow

Cleaning out underbrush and leaves, pulling weeds, and using the rake for almost everything in sight, I stopped short when I saw some bright red peeking through the green leaves. Wild strawberries threaded along the back fence of our short-term-rental property, growing where I did not plant them. In fact, any time I have tried to actually intentionally plant strawberries anywhere, it has not ended with such results as these. But these, almost hidden from view, planted by someone else long ago or maybe transplanted by a bird, or maybe growing in from the next-door neighbor's yard... however they got there, here they were.

Just last week I had texted Grant and told him, "In this yard, I always feel like we are reaping where we did not sow." It has beautiful hardscape, delightful plants and ground cover, trees that are just the right size, and feels like something far from the middle of a city. It is peaceful, quiet and cozy, and intimate. It is a haven, and I did not plant or create any of it. Longer ago, someone else had a vision, someone else put in hours of hard labor, someone else planted seeds and flowers, someone else tended, and watered, and weeded. And now today, there is still beauty where they sowed.

In a conversation with a friend yesterday, we were talking about the fact that as a generational trait, we and our peers are so hesitant to give our time or resources to something that doesn't have a guaranteed outcome. In the name of good stewardship, we often shy away from risky opportunities, desiring to ensure we are able to ascertain the success of whatever we give ourselves to. Not only is this a faithless approach, it also ignores the things all of us have inherited from those who planted in faith in the past. Certainly, there are those in our generation who have inherited generational poverty, or problems. But there are also those in our generation (and they may even be the same people mentioned in the previous sentence) who have inherited the teachings of faith, knowledge and wisdom, skills and secrets, and all kinds of things from those before us who sowed seeds, without knowing when or if they would reap that fruit. It is easier to identify with tangible, visible things like land or houses or plants, in this instance. But even those things that are harder to identify, are still the fruit of seeds sown in faith. Stories, skills, and service have been passed down through generations, trusting in the One able to multiply all that is given, the One who is unlimited by what is visible.

This spurs us on, and this reminds us not to be afraid to scatter seeds where we are and all around us. We are the beneficiaries of seeds that were sown without a guarantee. It's true that some seeds didn't, and don't, come up. We have an entire green bean crop outside our living room window that was sown in a lot of faith, but hasn't emerged from the soil for whatever reason. We still have opportunity to replant those, and we will do so as soon as it stops raining. But many metaphorical seeds that we plant appear dormant but really are not. Their fruit will emerge at a time that is unpredictable to us. We do not know how those seeds will grow in the future. We do not know either how they may die right now - but bring forth new life generations from now.

As we reap where we did not sow, this teaches us that we also must be sowing where we will not reap. We can scatter seeds generously and hopefully, knowing that the Grower gives good gifts. And knowing that those gifts are meant to be given.

It also teaches us that we can bloom even if we were poorly planted. Even if we find ourselves to be in a situation we were unprepared for, not given the resources for, or that lacks hope -- we can trust that somewhere, deeper and longer ago, seeds were planted into us that prepared us for such a time as this. We don't know what prayer was prayed long ago, what experience was given long ago, what life lesson we learned at another time that has made us viable even in the current rocky soil. Out of this soil, we can produce fruit, and out of that fruit come the seeds for the future.

In gratefulness (without guilt), accept the gifts that come from the places where you did not sow. And out of that gratefulness, sow in turn where you may not reap. Motivated by gratefulness and not guilt, the results will be entirely different. We may even find that we are reaping where we thought we were not, when our mindset is one of gratefulness.

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Hi, I'm Hannah.

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