Seeds of Faith
Last week I attended a funeral for Ella, a dear woman I hadn’t seen in years. She was the mother of my high school friend, Tina. I’d lost touch with Tina and Ella but still carried them in my heart because of a special connection I shared with them.
God had used Ella to plant seeds of faith in my heart when I was a teenager. One specific incident stands out. It was Sunday. As we were getting ready for church, Ella realized if she tithed, she wouldn’t have Tina’s weekly lunch money. She tithed anyway.
Ella decided to trust God’s promise:
“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over and poured into your lap.” (Luke 6:38 NLT)
That evening, Ella grabbed an old jacket from the closet on her way to visit a neighbor. As she walked outside, she jammed her hands in her pockets. She felt folded paper and pulled it out. She held a few dollars‑—enough for Tina’s lunch.
Ella was certain the found money was God’s doing rather than coincidence. He was returning her gift in full. Her belief got my attention, but my logical mind doubted. Nevertheless, I marveled at her confidence, and the story stayed with me.
Later, as a young mother teaching school, I was paying bills. My husband and I were building our budget to tithe. As I wrote checks, I realized that giving our budgeted amount meant not enough money to pay the credit card this month.
I recalled Ella’s example. I wanted faith like hers.
I didn’t pay the credit card. Instead, I gave the committed amount to my church. I decided I could cut living expenses enough to double the amount paid next month. When the statement arrived, I opened it to assess the late fee. I received a pleasant surprise. The account showed no money past due. I’d paid extra the previous month, and it was enough to cover the missed payment.
This time there was no doubt. God showed me He would provide; deeper grew my roots of faith.
“Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops, then your barns will be filled to overflowing …” (Prov. 3:9-10 NIV)
Ella’s simple testimony years before showed me a personal relationship with Jesus I hadn’t known. It’s one I’d longed for ever since, and my faith had been growing. But the leap it took to trust God with our finances that month and His perfect response was huge.
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” (Psalm 37:5)
Since I committed my life to God and began trusting Him in all things, I’ve been blessed time and again. God has always, more than enough, met my needs.
Unsurprisingly, Ella’s service revealed the lovely 93-year-old had influenced the faith of four generations of family. And my remembrance of her raised a question for me: What seeds of faith am I planting?
Our words and actions affect the faith of others. We need to share experiences that demonstrate God’s work in our lives. Tell the stories to our children and grandchildren. And their friends. A jaw-dropping, mired-in-sin, raised-from-the-dead testimony is not necessary to plant a seed that will steer someone’s heart toward God.
Nehemiah 9:3 3They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the LORD their God.
After celebrating the Feast of Booths, the people gathered again to hear the Word read to them and to finish confessing their sins. The prayer in Nehemiah 9 is a summary of the history of Israel. It begins with recognizing God for His greatness, that He is the Creator, and that all things come from Him. They continued with their own history of being called by God and delivered from Egypt, kept and fed in the wilderness, and given God’s directions for living, for their good. Yet they had refused to listen. They recounted their forefathers’ evil deeds of idol making and turning their back on God. God still helped them conquer their enemies. They acknowledged their ungrateful response to all that God had done.
In abundance and prosperity, they again turned from God, ignored the prophets’ warnings, and rebelled. God allowed enemies to conquer them and hardship to overtake them. Finally, they turned back to God. The cycle continued repeating until they were taken into captivity. All through the prayer, they extolled the wonderful attributes of God’s mercy, grace, love and justice.
We could pray a similar prayer. May I suggest that you write out a prayer acknowledging all that God has done in your life and how you have responded? Don’t forget to fill it with the attributes of God’s mercy, grace, love and justice. If you need ideas, read Nehemiah 9. It seems the heart of man never changes. When we have an abundance of blessing, we turn from God and go our own way until the hard times return. Then we ask God, “Why?” Only when we surrender to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit will we break this cycle, so that the LORD can bless us with our hearts remaining steadfast in true worship.
Consider: Take a moment to write out your own Nehemiah 9.
Human Suffering – Streams in the Desert – September 8
- 20218 Sep
“Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress” (Ps. 4:1).
This is one of the grandest testimonies ever given by man to the moral government of God. It is not a man’s thanksgiving that he has been set free from suffering. It is a thanksgiving that he has been set free through suffering: “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.” He declares the sorrows of life to have been themselves the source of life’s enlargement.
And have not you and I a thousand times felt this to be true? It is written of Joseph in the dungeon that “the iron entered into his soul.” We all feel that what Joseph needed for his soul was just the iron. He had seen only the glitter of the gold. He had been rejoicing in youthful dreams; and dreaming hardens the heart. He who sheds tears over a romance will not be most apt to help reality; real sorrow will be too unpoetic for him. We need the iron to enlarge our nature. The gold is but a vision; the iron is an experience. The chain which unites me to humanity must be an iron chain. That touch of nature which makes the world akin is not joy, but sorrow; gold is partial, but iron is universal.
My soul, if thou wouldst be enlarged into human sympathy, thou must be narrowed into limits of human suffering. Joseph’s dungeon is the road to Joseph’s throne. Thou canst not lift the iron load of thy brother if the iron hath not entered into thee. It is thy limit that is thine enlargement. It is the shadows of thy life that are the real fulfillment of thy dreams of glory. Murmur not at the shadows; they are better revelations than thy dreams. Say not that the shades of the prison-house have fettered thee; thy fetters are wings — wings of flight into the bosom of humanity. The door of thy prison-house is a door into the heart of the universe. God has enlarged thee by the binding of sorrow’s chain.
If Joseph had not been Egypt’s prisoner, he had never been Egypt’s governor. The iron chain about his feet ushered in the golden chain about his neck.