Mick’s Memo – Summer Stress
I doubt I’m the only one, but I find summer to be a little stressful. It seems we Central New Yorkers are programmed to pile a spectrum of events into a 2-3 month period of the year—camping trips and other vacations, class reunions, family reunions, weddings, anniversaries, VBS, sports clinics and camps, landscaping and vegetable gardening, etc. Whew, I’m tired just thinking about that list that doesn’t include ongoing commitment to work and daily chores.
Summer is also a time of great opportunity for connecting with people—many we only see on rare occasion. As followers of Jesus and ones who want others to discover the good news about Jesus, there is opportunity and a sense of responsibility to communicate about Jesus’ love and grace to those friends and family. I would love to bring all my extended family members and old school chums who are estranged from the Lord to CrossRoads where I have the platform and they would be expecting me to talk about God. They know I’m here. They know what they would hear. But most don’t come here. I can and have invited them, but most don’t live close enough to attend or don’t attend anywhere. How can we represent God in these venues?
Two passages come to mind as guiding principles—the parable of the sower, taught by Jesus in Matthew 13:3-9, and 18-23 is the first. We have been enlisted as laborers, assisting God in the sowing of the seed of truth. As we serve in this capacity, there will be varying responses determined by the heart condition of the recipient of the truth. I believe (though unspoken in this passage) we influence the fruitfulness of sowing by how we sow and our impact on the heart condition of others as we interact with them. That principle is emphasized in the other passage where Paul describes how God orchestrates fruitful ministry again using an agricultural picture. Responding to personality factions, Paul wrote, What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task.6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. (1 Cor. 3:5-6 NIV). Communicating the Gospel is a collaboration with God and with fellow believers. The Holy Spirit is preparing hearts through circumstances, conversations and displays of God’s presence in the life of believers (soil preparation). God gives us opportunities in conversation to tell of the grace we have received in Christ and its availability to our hearers (casting of seed). God also gives follow-up conversations with those who have received the word so that their response can be confirmed and roots be established.
As we cope with “summer stress”, I pray that all of us will prayerfully seize the opportunity to be part of God’s continuing harvest process—patiently and respectfully assessing the appropriate phase and engaging prayerfully in the only dialogue with eternal significance.
This weekend we will discuss the arrival of Samuel through the faithfulness of his mother Hannah. Looking forward to seeing you!