Saturday, May 17, 2008
Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him. (Psalm 125:5-6 NIV)

What are the things in life that make you cry? Maybe you’re not a crier but what are the things that make your soul really hurt?

One of the last times I remember crying was a few years ago as I watched my wonderful mother in law suffer and die from pancreatic cancer. That was a horribly painful time but it was also an incredibly powerful time as my mother in law, my father in law, my wife, and myself all found incredible comfort and strength from God to see us through those tough months. Yes, it was painful but now a few years later I look back and I see quite a beautiful story that has God all over it.

When you think back on the tough times in your life, do you not now see God in those times? Do you see how he was carrying you, comforting you?

And, when you see someone else hurting in a similar situation, don’t you feel a special empathy for them, don’t you have things to share with them, because of that story God wrote on your heart?

Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.

What I see here is a call to carry out those God stories – those difficult times of tears – and sow them into the world by sharing them. And, if we do that, we will return with songs of joy and a great harvest.

But how do you get close enough to someone that they want to hear your story and they’ll accept your story? Today’s culture doesn’t just naturally give us a lot of spaces for that kind of sharing. But yet today’s culture gives us more opportunities for relationships and interaction with others than ever before. We have lots of relationships but they tend to not go real deep.

We talk about the Great Commission -- go and make disciples of all the nations. We do that by building relationships with people and investing into them. Even sowing in tears in order to help them along their journeys and guide them through dark times.

As I look at trying to do a more intentional job of investing myself in others, I have spent some time looking at the various types of relationships I have with other people. Some are very superficial – nothing deep is being shared either way. These tend to be very perfunctory “strictly business” types of relationships. Some are very surface level – a little bit of sharing but not too much. I may know a bit about their family or where they are in life today but that’s about it. But a few are deep, sharing relationships. The ones where the other person and I truly help each other through life and even on our faith journeys. Those deep relationships came only when I opened myself up. When I exercised my freedom in Christ for the purpose of being authentic, raw, and real with others.

Sometimes, on rare occasions, it is easy to get to that level of depth with someone. You ever have one of those friends with whom you just really clicked from the moment you met? You were both able to be open and honest and sharing? Sometimes we luck into those relationships.

But it doesn’t usually happen that way. Normally we have all kinds of roadblocks that prevent us from really getting to a deeper level. When I think of some of those roadblocks, I think of ego and pride. I am better than them and I am not about to show any weakness. I think of fears. I don’t want them to know the real me … I don’t want them to see my tears, my pain, my problems. I think of not living in the present. I’m too busy to be bothered by someone else … all of these things are roadblocks that prevent us from entering into deep relationships with others.

And, while we have our roadblocks up, they are no different, they have theirs up too. You ever keep following the road even after there’s a sign saying Bridge Out Ahead … and eventually you come to the bridge and there’s one final sign right before it and you see that the bridge really is out and you look across and see the back side of the bridge out sign on the other side of the road? There’s no way you’re getting over there and no way a car from the other side is coming over to you? Sometimes the roadblocks we put up in relationships do that, don’t they?

So, if we’re truly supposed to be a Spiritual Leader for others – if we’re truly suppose to help them get off of their own agendas and get on to God’s agenda, how do we take down those roadblocks – not only our own but theirs, too?

How do we do that? It may be one thing to think about how we do that with others inside the walls of this church but how do we do it with co-workers, with neighbors, or with people we meet out in public?

Let’s look at some ways…

1) Spend genuine time with people. Live in the present. I struggle with this. My mind is usually going a million places at once so it’s very easy for me to have a conversation with someone and only about 10% of me is really into the conversation. Just ask my poor wife. That’s no way to build deep relationships though. I have to stay in the present every second.

2) Empathetic listening. Ask people questions when they are sharing … don’t we all have an Aunt Edna or someone in our life who is terrible at this. We mention that we’re going through a tough time and, without even listening, she begins to tell us about some horrible thing that happened to her back in 1942. When we listen with empathy, we keep the conversation about the other person … we don’t try to switch it back to ourself.

3) Do what we say we’re going to do. If that person is going to trust you with big things like sharing their fears, their problems, or even their soul, they have to be able to trust you to do little things like show up on time or return the garden hoe they loaned us.

4) Accept people where they are. Don’t immediately start to hammer away and try to change them. That doesn’t build deeper relationships; it alienates people.

5) Be vulnerable. Share your hopes and dreams. Share your fears and worries. This isn’t easy but remember that your freedom is in Christ, not what others think of us. Be open and vulnerable and then let God do with that what He wishes.

By doing things like this, we build relationships where we can share our God stories. Where we can sow in tears if it is a story of a difficult time in our life. By openly and honestly sharing our own stories, we don’t have to be a salesperson for Christ but instead more of a tour guide.

The Bible talks about sowing broadly. Building these sorts of deep relationships with as many others as possible will truly give us the opportunity to sow broadly … and allow God to reap a bountiful harvest.

  posted at 10:33 PM  


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Todd M


An ordinary guy. A wife I love very much. A great son. Wonderful friends. A metal roofing business and a sales training business. A loving church family. A few trade associations. A Christian school. And a four-pound poodle. Just trying to follow God and see where He leads.

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