Tractors all over the midwestern United States and in agricultural areas around the world are roaring to life, starting their annual pilgrimage into the fields. John Deeres, Fords, New Hollands and Massey Fergusons will sow corn, wheat, soybean, and cottonseed and seeds for other crops. Then, depending on the weather, irrigation systems will hydrate those fields.
What does the farmer do next? Other than an application of fertilizer or insecticide, his job is simply to watch and wait! Something has to occur that is beyond the farmer’s ability to control or direct. The seed must germinate and begin to grow. The farmer, as much as he would like to, cannot force the growth.
In the New Testament of the Bible, the apostle Paul referred to this reality in spiritual terms when he stated, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth!” (1 Corinthians 3:6).
For those of us living predominantly in service-oriented economies where we have to “make it happen,” no one thinks seriously about waiting and watching. The marketplace cheers the one who gets results. We are so far removed from the agricultural economy of our forefathers that even though we might agree with Paul’s logic, the impact of his words appears quaint and hopelessly out-of-date.
As we scurry about frantically, whether in the modern-day business and professional world, in our personal pursuits, or seeking to serve others, perhaps it is time for some core biblical truth to bring sanity and a sense of humility to our perspective about what we can do – and what we cannot. Paul’s comments later in the same passage offer enlightenment:
- God does not need us. “Neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything…” (1 Corinthians 3:7).
- God, however, chooses to use us and is pleased to do so. “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants…” (1 Corinthians 3:5).
- God gives opportunities to us to be of service to Him and others, and to participate in His divine purposes. “…as the Lord has assigned to each his task” (1 Corinthians 3:5).
Often, out of our insecurity or pride, we want to take the credit, to receive recognition: “I did this!” Yet how vital it is to let these truths filter deep within us so we release this need to take credit, or feel like we have to be in control. Instead, we can humbly accept our given roles in simply contributing to what God is doing in the world around us.
Do you remember the Super Bowl commercial in which the little boy runs around the house wearing a Darth Vader costume attempting to use “the Force”? Despite his best efforts and determination, nothing happens with the dryer, the dog or the doll. Then he raises his arms at his father’s car in the driveway. The lights blink and the engine starts – all to the amazement of the boy, and to the playfulness of the dad who was watching in the kitchen, starting the car with a wireless push button ignition.
In the TV commercial, the father intervened. In a far greater, more profound way, God our heavenly Father is intimately and intricately involved to make all things happen. The Bible makes this clear. Jesus told His followers, ” apart from me, you can accomplish nothing” (John 15:5). Later, the apostle Paul declared, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Taken and adapted from The Challenge, written and published by Robert D. and Rick Foster. Permission to reproduce with proper credit is freely given and encouraged. For questions or comments, write: 29555 Goose Creek Rd, Sedalia, CO 80135, U.S.A., or fax (303) 647-2315.
1. What can we learn from the agricultural analogy used in this “Monday Manna,” in which farmers do all they can and know to do, but ultimately must then wait on the outcome? Is this example relevant for the 21st century workplace? Why or why not?
2. Are there times at work when you feel as if it all depends on you, that if you cannot do everything, it will not get done? Describe what that feeling is like for you.
3. Why do you think it is hard for some people to admit that they cannot do it all, that the outcome of a project or endeavor does not rest squarely on their shoulders?
4. How easy is it for you to yield to God’s control in difficult situations, to rest in the assurance that if you have done all that you can, He will accomplish the rest? Is that even a consideration for you during your typical workday? Explain your answer.
If you would like to consider other Bible passages that relate to this topic, look up the following:
Isaiah 41:10; Jeremiah 33:3; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Philippians 4:19