“And these are the ones sown on the good soil; they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4: 20)
Ken and I have lived our entire married lives with the understanding that when you are generous to the world, the world is generous to you. This is another way of saying that you “reap what you sow.” We have given away money that some would say we should have saved for a rainy day or our retirement. We have spent money that we didn’t always have to take trips and make memories with and for our children. We have given our children money along the way when they have hit tight spots in their own lives. Alex likes to tease me and say that I’ll never retire because I’m still giving my kids money! That is not entirely true, but maybe a little true. We have opened our home to friends and to strangers who needed rest along the way. In all of these things, we have received so much in return for giving what feels like so little.
The fact is that we have always been overwhelmed with gratitude for what we have been given: parents who love us, churches that employ us, a roof over our head, the love and respect of our children, good educations, and a long and loving marriage. Some days we look at each other and say, “We know the best people.” It’s so true. We know some of the kindest, most faithful, most supportive people in the world. Other times we look at each other and say, “Our kids are so great.” Our adult children have far exceeded our expectations. They are generous and loving to friends and to strangers. They are making the world a better place in their own ways. More often than not, we look at each other and say, “isn’t it great that we get to do this work that we love?” We both absolutely love ministry and marvel at what we have been able to see and do in more than thirty years each of this good work.
I don’t want this to sound all sappy and sweet and perfect. I have plenty of times that I can tell you about when I was less than a generous and loving mother or wife or pastor. We shouted in our home. We fought. We cried. We got scared. We wondered some days if we were going to make it – financially, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Ken and I have both had times when we wondered at our foolishness of engaging in ministry as a career.
In all of this, the good and the bad, we are grateful. I am grateful for the good seed that is sown by me and for me. I am grateful for the opportunity to give out of all that I have received. There are moments when I worry about what will happen if we need long term care when we are very old and then I remember that you reap what you sow. When you are generous to the world, the world is generous to you. I give thanks to God and put my trust in the One who has taken me this far.
In this season of Lent, I encourage you to reflect on what you have sown and what you are sowing now. Always give thanks for what you reap. I encourage you to continue to put your trust in the living God who has seen us this far along the way. Amen.