Lord I want to make a difference!
My heart sank as I pulled my Chevy into the unpaved driveway of that forlorn house I saw sitting out in the middle of a ploughed field just south of Bakersfield. I knew the old house hadn’t been occupied for awhile by the amount of weeds that were growing freely in the driveway, and was certain of it after getting out of the car and peering in through the window.
A groan escaped my lips as I realized that the furniture was all covered with white sheets. “Just like in the movies,” I said to myself, with my face pressed against the window. Then I had flash backs of all the old movies that I had ever seen about a guy staying over night in old haunted houses with sheets on the furniture.
That little side trip of my imagination proved to be a huge mistake, as the next few nights unfolded for me.
“It’s just not fair,” I said out loud, as I sat my suitcases down in the middle of the musty front room. “It’s not fair that they treat young, single evangelists this way–making us sleep in some old dump like this.” I could feel a “funk” coming on and knew I wouldn’t like it. I could tell it was going to be a very long two weeks.
As I found a place to hang my clothes and spread my personal things out, I realized the time and decided on a quick bath before rushing off to the first night of a two week–what I hoped would be a “revival meeting”.
The house was old enough that the plumbing had been added on much later, so I found the bathroom where I expected it on what used to be a back porch that they had thrown a wall around. To my horror wild vines had grown up through the floor boards and into the bath tub. Needless to say, I went to church that night, unbathed.
The church was a typical small Pentecostal stuck in the past and traditions of men fellowship. It was going to be a long–very long two weeks.
As the first service came to an end and I was greeting the singers around the organ, one of them pulled out a “snapshot” and wanted to know if I had ever seen a picture of a demon.
“Of course not,” I answered reaching for the photo and there it was–big as life. A real, honest to goodness picture–or so they said–someone had snapped of them playing the organ, with the face of a wicked looking thing filling the entire window behind them.
“Very interesting,” I said, handing it back to them forgetting, for the moment, that I had to return alone to my lovely farm house in the country.
Of course the story gets worse, don’t they all, as we are learning our lessons growing up in His kingdom. I had been to the house only in the daylight. Now it was near midnight as I slipped the key into the lock and entered the dark front room. Flipping on the light, it dawned on me for the first time that all five windows were completely bare of shades or curtains, and every window looked a lot like the one that demon had been peering through.
As I lay on the floor in those early morning hours, half way under the bed, between the bed and wall, my soul cried out, “Oh Lord, what am I doing here? What’s the point of all this mess? I just want to make a difference Lord, I want to make a difference .” Then I drifted off to sleep.
None of us who have joined God’s great army of soldiers, signed up to go through experiences like I just related to you, and neither did I.
I joined God’s team to make a difference, to be in the big battle, and maybe even single handedly to win a battle or two like David did with Goliath. Yes sir, my visions were much bigger than what I was experiencing at the moment. Not surprising, most of the lessons and truth that I have learned out of this and other of my early experiences, came much later as I began to grow and learn the pattern of God’s dealings with me.
First of all, I had to learn to be poured out as water before the Lord. You remember the water that was brought back to David by his faithful men from the well at his beloved Bethlehem? (II Sam. 23) David took that precious water and as an honor to the Lord, poured it out on the ground. The water was important, but it was still under the control of David.
Secondly, I had committed in my early youth, to be a faithful sower of the Word–not understanding completely the terms that I had signed up for.
You see, as I dip my hand into the seed bag casting out my life, and the Word of God, as seed in the ground around me (Mark 4) some of my life and the Word of God that I preach will fall beside the roadway. The birds or demons of doubt and unbelief will come immediately and steal it out of the hearts of men and women that have heard the Word.
Secondly, some of it will fall on stony ground, and oh how exciting it is to see the quick growth and gladness of heart that happens to the ones who received it. But alas, they have not root or strength to stand when trouble and persecution come because of the word that was sown–so they stumble.
Thirdly, there are the times and seasons that everything around us seem to be thorny ground. Every sweep of the hand as your seed and life is released, as far as you can see, is thorny ground. There is never any fruit from thorny ground, because it is always choked out by the cares of life, deceitfulness of riches and an insincere heart because of the desire of other things.
Nowhere in scripture can I find that the Holy Spirit tells us to sow on good ground exclusively. But on the contrary, Isaiah tells us that we are blessed if we SOW BESIDE ALL WATERS. (Isa. 32:20)
So thank God for the fourth type of ground in Mark 4–the good ground. I’ve often wondered why there has to be so much gravel and sand in between each nugget of gold that you find in your pan. But according to the teaching of Christ in Mark 4; that’s life.
Good ground; let those words drop on your parched tongue as water to a dying man. Good ground; the place every responsible servant has been looking for. Why was “good ground” last in the teaching that Christ gave in Mark 4? Was it because, perhaps, that’s life? Or perhaps 75% of what we do looks, or is, fruitless. Some thought isn’t it?
How quick would we be to sign up for this great work of faith in the gospel ministry, if we really understood that three out of the four people that you spend time on, or sow the seed in, will produce little or no fruit–and may even end up being your enemy?
But, as Jesus taught us, that’s life in the Kingdom!
“Good ground”, how wonderful it is to know that God has “good ground” planned for each of us–both to sow in, and to harvest from.
Good ground people and experiences will produce 30-60-100 times back to you what you think that you may have lost in the fruitless efforts towards others.
And remember that Amos prophesies that the day is coming in the kingdom of God that the plowman shall be over taken by the reaper. (Amos 9:13) That’s abundance folks, and lots of “good ground”.
I have, to this day, never heard of any fruit that came out of my Bakersfield experience, except for my own personal growth. But I am assured of this one thing, the thing that has kept me driving forward with no hesitation, or slacking off–and it is this:
I know that “God’s Word” never goes void, somebody got touched, and God keeps the records because He knows where the good ground is.
Keep on sowing
Weights & Balance Dept.