Del Tarr talks about his experience in the Sahel, just under the Sahara desert.
All the rain in this area of West Africa falls in four months—May through August. In October and November the people rejoice. Harvest has come.
There is plenty of food. They can eat two meals a day.
But, as the year proceeds the granaries shrink. Hunger begins to bites.
Tarr says, “April is the month that haunts my memory…Parents go at this time of year to the bush country, where they scrape bark from certain trees. They dig up roots as well, collect leaves, and grind it all together to make a thin gruel.
“They may pawn a chair, a cooking pot, or bicycle tires in order to buy a little more grain from those wealthy enough to have some remaining, but most often the days are passed with only an evening cup of gruel.”
At this time there was always a little boy somewhere who would run into the house and tell his father, “I’ve found grain!” He’d been poking around in the hut behind the house and found a leather pouch full of grain.
He thought the family was saved.
The father would sadly shake his head and say, “Son, that is our seed. If we eat that there will be no harvest.”
In May, when the rains come, the father takes this seed, which is worth more than gold to him, goes out into his field and begins to sow it.
“(He) does the most unreasonable thing imaginable,” Tarr says. “Instead of feeding his desperately weakened family, he goes to the field and–I’ve seen it–with tears streaming down his face, he takes the precious seed and throws it away.
“He scatters it in the dirt! Why? Because he believes in the harvest.”
It’s been like this since the beginning of time in dry areas, I suppose. Thousand of years ago a songwriter sang:
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
And that brings up some critical questions for me. Are there any areas of my life where I’m eating my seed instead of sowing it?
Am I spending everything except pocket change on myself when there is so much need in the world? If so, when harvest comes I’m likely to starve.
Am I using my time and energy simply trying to have a good time and enjoy myself? Harvest time is coming.
My dreams, my hopes, my plans—am I chowing down on my future and leaving what God wants for my life out of my plans? That leads to a full belly now but starvation later.
Ouch! I don’t know about you, but that is my reaction. Ouch! It’s a good time to do an in-depth check up to be sure we’re not eating our seed grain in any part of who we are and how we live.
2 Cor. 8: And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people… (NIV)
2 Cor. 9:6Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 8And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 9As the Scriptures say,
“They share freely and give generously to the poor.
Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
10For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
11Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. (NLT)
From an article in “Leadership” Spring 1983 p. 66-7