Sunday, December 07, 2014

This week's lesson (December 6-12): getting ready for the harvest

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. . . . Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. -- James 5:7-11, NIV
If you need proof of these words in James, then take a look at your garage. If it's like mine, then it's full of of toys -- bicycles, kayaks, tennis rackets, golf clubs, cross-country skies . . .
  • All of which were bought in a flush of enthusiasm.
  • All of which were used a few times.
  • And all of which are now gathering dust, rust, and spider-webs.
You see, these all have a "learning curve" . . . 
Which is another way of saying that "This is fun!" soon gives way to "This is hard . . . and my feet hurt . . . and I think I'll go back to the car now."
Likewise, we follow Jesus with zeal and gusto . . . at first.
But all too soon (and all too often), the zeal falters. The gusto fades. Bible study becomes a chore, prayer a burden, and worship just something to get through.
That's why James tells us to persevere.
That's why James tell us to stick with it.
For if we just hang in there . . . 
Things begin to click.
The pieces come together.
And all that stuff in our garage becomes a blessing.

FOOTNOTE: Sunday's lesson (December 7) gives the impression there are two rainy seasons in Palestine:
  • "The early rain, which generally falls in October and November, [and which] moistens the ground and prepares it for planting and germination.
  • "[And] the latter rain, around March or April, [which] ripens the grain for harvest."
The phrase, "autumn and spring rains," in other words, is a merism, i.e. a pair of opposites that means "everything." Just as "the tree of knowledge of good and evil" is "the tree of all knowledge," in other words, "the autumn and spring rains" is a phrase that refers to the whole rainy season. 

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