A few years ago I was privileged to hear Dr. Charles Stanley’s lesson on Reaping and Sowing. This agricultural process is used in the Bible several times to describe our lives and the consequences of our actions.
To begin with, we sow, that is, plant the seed. In our lives, there are many kinds of seeds we can plant besides the literal seed that goes into the ground. We can sow good behavior, like love, respect, kindness, for example, and we can also sow good habits. Or, on the other hand, we can sow negative things like hate, hostility, bitterness. And we can sow bad habits such as substance abuse, poor eating choices, immoral lifestyles.
Then we reap, we bring in the harvest of what we’ve sown. There are three ways we harvest:
1) We reap what we sow. In other words, if we sow a tomato seed, we get a tomato plant. In the same way, if we sow a good habit like eating well, we’ll be healthier and feel better. However, if we sow a negative habit like substance abuse, we’ll reap poor health, bad relationships, danger and possibly criminal charges. The same is true of the way we treat people. If we sow kindness, we’ll reap kindness; whereas if we sow hostility, we’ll reap hostility. (Job 4:8)
2) The next feature of reaping is that we reap after we sow. Just as we plant a seed in the ground, we will not reap the result until later. The same is true for our actions. What we do or say today may have consequences tomorrow, next week, next year or maybe even for the rest of our lives.
3) The third key aspect of reaping is that we reap more than we sow. (2 Corinthians 9:6) If we plant a seed of corn, we grow a corn plant, with many ears and many kernels (future seeds). This is also true of our actions. The consequences grow and multiply. For example, if we sow love, that love comes back to us from others. But if we sow hatred, that too, can continue to produce hatred for a long time. Consider the wars that are fought because of something that happened many years ago.
So how does sowing and reaping relate to writing?
First, we must plant the seed, that is, write, before we can harvest. The harvest also comes in three ways.
1) When we have produced a finished piece, we will harvest in kind – publication – either online or in hard copy. What we have written on our computers becomes something written elsewhere.
2) We harvest after the work is written. We must finish, then submit. The length of time between finishing and seeing our work published varies, depending on the type of writing, the type of publishing, and how long it takes to be accepted. Understanding this part of the process prepares us to wait for the result.
3) And then there’s the multiplication process of writing, reaping more than is sown. For example, one published piece will get many readers. If those readers tell others, more readers will see it. Another part of this growth is that the more that’s written, the more people will see something you’ve written. This principle is clearly evident with blogs. I’ve been blogging over two years now and have written close to 200 posts. When I review readership reports, I amazed to find that posts I wrote a year or more ago are being read by new viewers, hence the readership continues to grow.
I’m not a farmer, but I’ve experienced the excitement of seeing a seed I planted grow into a beautiful flower with multiple blossoms. It’s even more exciting when that same plant returns year after year, continuing to produce its beauty.
But I’m not the reason for the harvest. I’m not the engineer that makes the seed turn into something else. God, the great Creator produces the harvest. All I do is plant the seed.
In the same way, what happens to my writing afterwards is not really in my control. Who publishes my work or how many people read it is out of my hands. I have to trust God to take care of the harvest. All I have to do is plant the seed – write. What a blessing to be in this divine partnership!
“Sow your seed in the morning,
and at evening let your hands not be idle,
for you do not know which will succeed,
whether this or that,
or whether both will do equally well.” Ecc. 11:6