|With Jesus as Lord, we share His Love|
Like Winter Wheat
Winter wheat is a grain crop that has some unusual characteristics. Unlike other grains raised in the Midwest, winter wheat is planted in September. The seed germinates, and the plants grow about six inches before autumn frosts halt the growth. The wheat then moves into a dormant period during winter's cold and snow. It begins to grow again with the arrival of warmth and the moisture of spring rains. Winter wheat is not "surprised" by cold, snow, or dormancy, but could almost be said to "expect" it. This is winter wheat's natural life cycle.
In the book of John, Jesus compared His life to that of a grain of wheat that must endure the hardship of dying to itself in order to produce a plentiful harvest. As His followers, the same applies to us. If our lives are like that of a grain of winter wheat, why then should we be surprised when cold, hard times come? And why do we so often feel forsaken by God during those times, and spend so much time looking back with longing on what now appears to have been a better time? Why do we, like Job in his distress, say,
I long for the years gone by when God took care of me, when he lit up the way before me and I walked safely through the darkness. Job 29:2-3 NLT
or mourn like the Psalmist,
My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration. Psalm 42:4 NLT
But, here is the thing about wintery times. Winter wheat, due to being in the ground through the long season of cold, has additional time to develop its roots, and, as a result, its roots extend deeper into the soil than those of spring wheat. Our long, cold times give us opportunity to do the same.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 NLT
So how do we move ourselves from mourning to "great joy"? Even though we don't feel like it, we choose, like the Psalmist, to praise God anyway, right in the middle of our sadness and discouragement.
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again--my Savior and my God! Psalm 42:5
This "I will" of choosing to praise, even when we don't feel like it, could, I believe, be the highest purpose for our being given free will.
Oh, and speaking of free will, there's one other characteristic of winter wheat that I just have to share. According to a North Dakota State University publication, "Good stands of winter wheat are especially competitive with wild oats."
September is upon us, and we can't know whether the winter just ahead will be harsh or mild, but we can purpose in our hearts that, no matter what lies ahead, we'll commit to choosing praise, to growing like a good stand of winter wheat that can outcompete any wild oats threatening to invade.