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I was enjoying my dinner of chicken patty sandwiches and carrot sticks when I was jarred to my senses by rattling windows and swaying curtains. Not fully believing that an earthquake was really happening, I raced down the three flights of stairs and out onto the street where the neighbors were already gathering. Apparently the strange sensations had not been confined to my apartment alone.
I had no idea that God was using this not so pleasant surprise to create an opportunity to proclaim his name to two young women on the following day.
Part of the following day’s activities included shopping at a craft store located inside a popular Thai market. I was walking down the aisle and almost ready to turn a corner when I overheard a conversation by two young ladies who were sitting beside each other on the floor on the side of the aisle. There conversation was obviously inspired by the earthquake on the previous evening and went something like this.
“What do you think about the year 2012? Are you afraid to die?” one of them asked.
“Not really. If I die, I die.” came the casual reply.
I went on with my shopping but returned a little later with a gospel tract that I had prepared for unexpected situations like this. I handed it to one of the girls with a few words of recommendation for what she should do with it and before long went on my way.
My meeting with these two girls and the golden opportunity to share Christ was completely unexpected. I was glad I had some Gospel literature prepared to meet the need that arose so quickly.
There have been many other times when I was not prepared in an unexpected situation and the regret that I felt has helped me to do what it takes to prepare myself for future encounters.
Just like a farmer prepares himself to go out and plant the seed and harvest the fruit, in the same way we can prepare ourselves for planting of seed and harvest of the souls that we will meet.
A farmer that expects to go out to the fields to sow his seed without actually taking any seed with him is sure to be disappointed with the results of his mission. But because he is intentional in his mission, he will take time to prepare enough seed to cover his entire field.
When we are intentional about our mission of sowing God’s Word, we too will carefully prepare ourselves with the resources that we need. This may include but is not limited to:
When it’s time for the harvest, a farmer will be careful to prepare the tools and equipment he needs to bring it all in. This may include long hours spent during the cold winter months just working on his equipment to make sure that it is ready for the harvest.
We can prepare ourselves to bring in a harvest of souls in the following ways.
The mother of all preparations is found in our dependence on God expressed through prayer. A farmer may do his part well, but he cannot cease to depend on God to send the rain and sunshine in just the right amounts to ensure a good harvest.
We too cannot be fully prepared until we have learned to depend upon God for the wisdom, grace, and creativity needed to deal with each unexpected situation.
Unlike a farmer, we might never quite know before we begin whether the work we are about to do is sowing seed or harvesting. But if we do what it takes to prepare ourselves for either one of these “fruitful” activities, we’ll be sure to find many gardens that are in need of our services.