Lord, as the whole world grows weary, help us become more aware of Your love by drawing us closer and closer to You. Give us a confident hope in Your mercy and forgiveness. We are sorry for letting things of this world take Your place. Help us KNOW we are loved and forgiven. Please heal our land. We need a fresh outpouring of Your grace and Spirit to transform us into gushing fountains of joy. May that joy spill over into every relationship with both family and friends. Help us replace selfish expectations with faithful hope, empowering us to place the needs of others ahead of our own. Give us new desires and soft hearts that bring honor to You. May we long to revel in Your presence EVERY day from this day forward. We love you, God! Thank you for loving us. It’s not to us, but to YOUR name that we give all glory and praise forever and ever. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen!
The old farmer dutifully flung the hefty sack full of EXPECTATION seeds over his shoulder. Intent on producing a bumper crop, he proudly marched toward his vast and newly-plowed field. Gnarly fingers grasped the neck of the sack in one hand, while the other held all of his old well-worn and familiar tools.
The ad for EXPECTATION seed in the store’s catalog had jumped off the page as though offering a handshake to friendly buyers. Seed never came with a guarantee, yet there was something strikingly different about this particular variety. Though it grabbed the farmer’s attention, he understood his seed choice must be made carefully. Memories of past EXPECTATION purchases still lingered in the corner of his mind. Several times before, he made his selection too hastily. He had also been known to plant too soon, resulting in his crop of EXPECTATION growing into a field of disappointment.
This time would be different!
The farmer used every tool at his disposal to plant each seed by hand. He didn’t want to make the same mistakes he’d made before. He poked hole after hole into the soil, dropped in each seed one by one, and carefully covered every one with fresh dirt. A light rain blessed his diligence, and soon, the largest field he’d planted in a very long time began to sprout.
Excitement about the possibilities of a valuable crop overwhelmed him. Eagerly, he scattered more and more fertilizer, thinking more of anything was always better. However, more manure only made for yellow leaves. Realizing his mistake, he cut back on the nutrients so as not to harm the plants any further. He prayed for gentle rains and protection from pests that liked to devour tender seedlings. The old farmer even prayed for wisdom in making better choices for his valuable crop. He knew that without help from above his field of EXPECTATION would never produce what he intended.
The rains did come. Gently, at first, but the gentleness didn’t last long enough. Booming cracks of thunder and flashes of blinding light announced the arrival of torrential rain. The farmer woke from a fretful sleep to the fury raging outside his window. This was not the kind of rain he had prayed for! This would only destroy his field of EXPECTATION. What good could ever come from a rain like this? How could he possibly recover from this kind of loss?
As always, the sun came up the next morning. The old farmer, now feeling much older than his years, went out to survey the damage. Just as he feared, all EXPECTATION had been lost. He couldn’t believe it! He grieved his loss, and his pain became unbearable. He realized that once again things had gotten out of control, and he could do nothing to fix them. His prayers for increase seemed as trampled as his crop. He shook an angry fist at God, “How could you let this happen? I thought You were on my side! You could have stopped this!”
Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and the weary man’s disposition turned sour. Sleep ran in the opposite direction. Not even a good meal brought comfort. Though he refused to answer, depression kept knocking persistently at his door.
Finally, he humbled himself and did the only thing he knew to do. He cried out to God, asking forgiveness for putting his trust in his crop of EXPECTATION instead of the One who had stood with him through every storm – the One who had turned every evil thing thrown his way into something for his ultimate good. He fervently prayed, not only that his fields would be blessed with better seed, but also that his bitter heart would be once-and-forever changed.
With head bowed low, he raised a hand to wipe away the many tears now falling into his lap. Then … ever so quietly, he heard a still, small voice whisper, “Don’t wipe away your tears, look through them, and you’ll see things more clearly.” Slowly, he raised his head and noticed split rays of sunlight shining on the floor in front of him. Dust particles danced in the spotlights. He stood up and walked over to the window so he could feel the light on his face. He closed his eyes, lifted his chin, and took in all the blessings of the Light.
When he opened his tear-filled eyes, he couldn’t believe what he saw before him. His once muddy, rutted, and thought-to-be-destroyed field now exploded with glorious color! The storm had uprooted every single sprout of EXPECTATION, and in their places, seeds of HOPE had been lovingly planted. They had been nourished by the remains of EXPECTATION, germinated through the soil of FAITH, and given time to grow. The old farmer, now feeling much younger than his years, slowly realized that his seeds of EXPECTATION had been planted by his hand, with his skill, his knowledge, and in his own power.
But HOPE? HOPE was a much better seed. Planted by LOVE Himself. And HOPE does not disappoint!
The farmer finally got it! His selfish pride had planted seeds of EXPECTATION that eventually withered. However, the relentless, unconditional LOVE of God that had always protected his heart though every swirling storm, replaced those inferior seeds with ones of HOPE. This HOPE produced a glorious field flowering with FAITH and LOVE.
The faithful farmer scampered through his new field gathering flowers of many colors. He placed them into jars of clay to share with his friends and family. He couldn’t wait for them to hear how all of his dead EXPECTATIONS had given rise to a living HOPE.
With EXPECTATION gone, “these three remain: faith, hope, and love – but the greatest of these is LOVE!” (1 Corinthians 13:13)