Sometimes obedience doesn’t come with an immediate reward, and we doubt. We make the sacrifice in faith that in due season we will reap, if we do not faint, and then when time passes and there seems to be no harvest, not even a small hint of fruit, we despair.
His ways are not our ways.
There is a due season for an apple tree to yield apples, for a cornfield to be harvested, for a baby to be born. And there is a due season for fruit in the Christian life, but it is not a date, or even a month to be circled on the calendar.
He works deep within, planting seeds. And we are promised one day those seeds will bear fruit. But God sees time so differently than we do. The beauty, the bounty He promises seldom comes when we expect it. And it seldom comes in the way we expect it. What if the harvest we are reaping is different that our expectations, our dreams?
His thoughts are not our thoughts.
I struggle to be faithful when I don’t see an answer to my prayer or a result to my work after a time that feels like it should be enough. This morning I faced the reality that a real knees-to-the-ground sacrifice I have made– faithfully– has not had the results I hoped for. In fact, by all outward appearances it has had the opposite result. What’s the point?
Sometimes I’m afraid that I will serve God sacrificially and no one will ever notice– that no measurable, visible fruit will ever be seen. I’m afraid that I will not be recognized for my sacrifice. Of course that’s pride talking; that’s flesh. Flesh says to Erin be the glory and if Erin’s not getting the glory then there’s no point in what Erin’s doing. Pride says I deserve some kind of recognition.
Can I live a whole life of sacrifice and obedience and never receive a moment of praise? Me, whose love language is words of affirmation? I don’t think I can. I don’t think I can do this day after day after day and never see any outward change so that you look at me and say, “Great job, Erin!”
Today God brought me to my knees. He does that when I get freaked out by my crazy, prideful mind. I want to be faithful, and I want to be humble, and I want to be willing to trust and obey for no other reason that to know Him and the power of His resurrection but it is so. hard. Today, hungry for outward change, for applause, I came to my Father and I confessed my weakness– my hunger and thirst not for righteousness, but for my own pride to be upheld, my own name lifted up.
I love my Lord so much. Because in that moment of confession and desperate hunger, He reminded me of this– that He sees me, He knows everything I do in secret, and He favors me. He is proud of me. He has seen the sacrifice, and He will reward me in His time, in His way. He will not forget even one teardrop. There will be a harvest; there is already a harvest within me. My God approves of me, because of grace, because of Jesus– not because of my sacrifice. He delights in me. And He promises me grace and strength, not for a whole lifetime of seemingly unrecognized sacrifice, but for today. And tomorrow there will be new strength, new mercies in the morning.
Today my God reminded me that He is at work within me, in the hidden places, and it’s not important for others to see and approve. And He reminded me that He is at work in other areas, in other places that seem fruitless. His grace allows me to keep discipling my children, to keep pouring into that one hard relationship, to keep teaching those wiggly kids at church– because my eyes can’t see what He’s doing with these hearts, but He can, and He asks me to sow and water and teach and love and let Him bring the increase.
I can trust Him to see, to accomplish the work within, and to bring it to fruition in His good time.
I say none of this to bring praise to myself. My sacrifices are so small, so very meager. I say this to encourage you to keep enduring, to be faithful, to not grow weary, to entrust yourself and that situation that seems fruitless to the God who sees you. If you are a believer in the finished work of Christ on Calvary, then God rejoices in you.
He delights in you.
He approves of you.
And He will make all things beautiful in His mysterious time.
His ways are beyond understanding, His thoughts past finding out.