THE SECRET PLACE
Hurt me with the truth – but never comfort me with a lie
BRINGING IN THE SHEAVES
“Bringing in the Sheaves” is a popular American Gospel song used almost exclusively by Protestant Christians. The lyrics were written in 1874 by Knowles Shaw, who was inspired by Psalm 126:6, “He that goes forth and weeps, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” I’m not sure everyone knew what this hymn was about but for the most part, it was widely believed to have something to do with being a witness of the gospel and its power to save the lost. It is an analogy between harvest time in the fields of grain and the spiritual harvest of souls, to be had as a result of the diligent sowing of God’s Word. The harvest time for the Christian should be as joyful as it is for the farmer as he sees the fruit of his labor. The Psalm is actually a promise of restoration to Israel after their captivity in Babylon. It reads, in part, “Bring back our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the South. Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.” The promise was that those who wept for the return of God’s people to their homeland and left the security of their captivity to return would ultimately reap the harvest of their investment. The hymn combines this Old Testament truth with the New Testament principles of reaping and sowing taught by Christ, including phrases like “sowing seeds of kindness” and “labor for the Master.” Jesus taught quite a bit on the subject, with his parables on the soils, wheat and tares, and mustard seed. He also used the illustration of the harvest a number of times to represent the end of the age, a time that should be prepared for by living in anticipation of His return and in going out to the “highways and hedges” and compelling as many to come to His “wedding feast” as possible before the end of the age. Nonetheless, our enthusiasm about Jesus will be contagious if we are truly in love with Him. Unfortunately, we can lose our zeal so easily that it becomes difficult to concentrate and “maintain” a consistent witness. We may have a few strong days where we are aware of His glory, and then through weakness our flame of passion can lose the intensity of His fire. It is true – our walk with Christ is revealed in the intensity of our love for Him. The deeper our commitment and devotion to Him, the more confident and “filled” we will be with an infectious longing to tell the world about how awesome He is. Do you remember when we received Christ? We were so excited we wanted to go out into the streets and grab strangers to tell them about Jesus. What happened? Selah.
Witnessing is not just relaying the four pillars of faith, it is being ready “in season and out of season” to discern exactly what GOD wants them to know. However, in order for us to have the boldness of His anointing – we must prove our integrity by LIVING in the reverential fear of His holiness. In other words, people will be more inclined to listen to us speak into their life if we have the reputation of practicing what we believe. I heard a true story the other day from the life of a popular minister and I would like to pass it along because it shows the importance of being prepared to speak God’s piercing truth under the power of The Holy Spirit.
A man walked into the Pastors office, seeking help for his poor wife. He proudly introduced himself as one of the chief engineers of NASA and had spent his life working to develop manned rockets including the space shuttle. The pastor asked what had happened in his marriage and the man said his wife did not want to live. The pastor said that he would be glad to help and told him that he would speak to her only if he would come with her and sit in on the conversation. He agreed, set up an appointment and brought her to the office the next day. The pastor said, what is troubling you my dear lady and she looked over to her husband and said she could not exist any longer with this “demonic monster” of a man. She went on to explain that, (and he agreed) though he was very wealthy and well respected in the world of academia, he was also an alcoholic, adulterer, abuser, deceiver, gambler and a compulsive liar. The pastor began to turn his attention to the man and out of curiosity asked him if he considered himself a Christian. The man began to laugh and with a smart aleck response said, of course not – I am an atheist! I came here so that maybe you could help her understand how to tolerate the way I am.
The pastor continued. So, as an atheist, you are saying that you know there is no God. He responded yes. May I ask you a question dear sir? Since you are an intelligent person, could it be possible that you might understand half of the knowledge, wisdom and spiritual truth in the world? The man said I am not sure of what percentage I know. The pastor said, but would you agree that you do not know ALL truth? Yes, I agree. The pastor continued, so then could it be possible that in the percentage of truth that you do NOT know, it could be true that God is real? Mmmm…ok, you may have me there. The pastor proceeded. If this is the case, then maybe you are more of an agnostic than an atheist because an agnostic does not KNOW there is no God, they just have never found Him to be a reality in their own life. The pastor requested permission to go on and the man smiling said by all means. The pastor said, now we need to identify what type of agnostic you are. There are “closed agnostics” and “open agnostics”. The man became more curious as he was being personally exposed and wanted to know what that meant. The pastor explained that closed agnostics have NO desire to pursue their spiritual conclusions about God and are content to live the rest of their life NOT caring about what they do NOT know. The open agnostic realizes there is undiscovered truth that can be comprehended if they would only take the time to investigate. The open agnostic wants to prove their worldviews and not live on their opinions as they are willing to seek that which they do not know. So, my question to you sir, is which type are you? The man stared straight ahead and seemed visibly shaken. After hesitating for a few moments, he said he needed time to think about this.
The Pastor asked, would you be willing to “prove” the existence of God by making a decision to read His Word for one week and sincerely asking Him that if He is real – to present Himself to you? Would you accept the challenge to agree that if God would prove Himself to you that you would give him your life and allow Him to save your soul and transform your mind? Are you serious enough about wanting to know TRUTH that you would sign an agreement to do this with all diligence and honesty? If you truly have the desire and determination, then I am convinced that within one week you will come face to face with The Almighty God. If He does not reveal Himself to you then you may continue in your old familiar path of living the way you want. God’s love and my thoughts and prayers are with you both. The next week, the man walked in and asked if he could talk. The pastor closed the door and the man fell on his knees and cried like a small child in a genuine release of sorrow and repentance. He never dreamed that in seeking help for his wife, his life would come face to face with God’s grace. He was connected through divine destiny for God to knock on the door of HIS heart and a life was super-naturally changed forever. The old saying is simple and true, we do not know what we are missing if we have never had it. The lost world does not have a clue about the presence of God because they have never met Him. This is why evangelism is such a strong identification within our life of faith and obedience to Christ. It is in the divine appointments and miraculous connections of words and deeds between people that become spiritual seeds that can cause a soul to be reborn. It is this transformation of the heart that leads the triune individual across the spiritual bridge of atonement and redemption into God’s open arms. How important is it for us to be sensitive to these “passing ships in the night”? How crucial within the miracle process is it that we actually BELIEVE that God is constantly trying to use our witness? If we are not paying attention to God about our responsibility to others, then what exactly are we accomplishing?
I have pondered this scenario many times, but may I present it again. We may not have bundles of obvious sin that we have COMMITTED because we try to remember to ask forgiveness. However, we may be shocked to discover our many failures of OMITTED sins that we never thought about because we were too busy allowing our carnality to lead us. AWARENESS is the sensitivity that helps us remember that people are watching and listening to us. It is in the life of sincere PRAYER that creates this seriousness and holiness that keeps our spiritual eyes and ears focused on the still small voice that is trying to keep us focused. What is our mission? What is our calling? Could it be anything more than living our life IN CHRIST so the world can SEE the God they do not know? When a child of God walks in His Spirit, their actions become the representation of Jesus Himself. This IMAGE of the Most High is the interference and interruption that causes the men and women to realize their path of life is NOT on the right course. If there cannot be placed a value on the spirit of an individual, then how priceless is the witness and testimony that we project? There is not a higher honor in the heaven or earth than to live and walk as an ambassador for the living God of all eternity. How would we feel if we discovered that we failed to help others know God? How would God explain to us at the judgment that because of our concerns about personal comforts and pleasures on earth that we MISSED many opportunities to be used by Him to save them. Instead of us being excited that we finally made it to heaven, it would be disturbing to realize that we did not have enough love, concern, desire, compassion, or burden to pray that we would be used in God’s harvest field. In order to love others as much as we love ourselves, we will need to be just as concerned with them going to heaven – as we are. Selah.