“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness”. 2 Corinthians 9:10
As far as I'm concerned, the calendar year has always been off. Calendars should run from September to September, not January to January. It seems that all my activities start in September and end in May.
September in our family begins with the opening of dove season, September 1. At that time we gather together for fellowship, laughter, cooking, being together and yes, some hunting. I have never been able to tell the difference between a dove and a quail, but I am reminded of the time when the Israelites complained about the manna that God sent them in the desert. So God sent quail into the camp for their good pleasure. I can imagine what an exciting time it must have been – birds flying everywhere, everyone eating to their hearts content. Not unlike the first dove hunt of the season. Quail, a new beginning for the Israelites - a time of dependence and faith in the Lord; dove season, a time of peace for us – a new beginning in the calendar year.
The reason that September represents new beginnings for me is that fall is the time of the first fruits. After the sowing and planting are complete, the harvest is a visual reminder of the multiplication of the seeds that were planted in the spring. When the first fruits appear, they are gleaned and gathered, brought forth unto the altar of the Lord in thanksgiving for his abundance and blessings. It is a time of new opportunity, of reflection on all that the Lord has done. Thinking, reflecting, gathering, and counting we store our blessings in hearts of gratitude. We are then in a better position to share these blessings with others.
As a grandmother, with children no longer at home, I am not as much concerned with the beginning of the calendar year as I once was. But I am concerned with the seeds and first fruits. As I gather all that the Lord and I have been about this year, I carefully set aside the seeds that are the bi-product of last year's planting. It is a time of new beginnings, new plans, new thinking. As I set my sacrifice on the altar of God's goodness, I look forward to finding new ways that I can interact in God's world, of planting the seeds that I had not expected, of preparing to water and nurture the new crops that will result from this year's harvest.
I have always wanted to plant a garden with my grandchildren. Unfortunately they live too far away to do that. But my grandson Jack plants one with his mother. They grow lettuce, tomatoes, cantaloupes, and watermelons. I confess I have never seen evidence of the cantaloupe and watermelon, but I am told they have been planted.
I do have a grandson who lives not a mile from me who is now almost two. Right now we just water the plants. In a few years we can begin. Teaching him to nurture and care for the seeds as they are sown will be a wonderful way to physically teach biblical and spiritual principals. Learning to sow seeds is a vital part of the Christian education.
But teaching him about the first fruits is what I am really about, of saving the seeds of the harvest to build next year's crop, of sacrificing and thanksgiving for an abundance of blessings. As a servant of the living God I am instructed to offer the biggest and the best of this year's crop. That's what I want to pass down, the picture of offering the first fruits which represents the whole harvest. Only after they have been offered as something sacred can the rest be put to use.
Currently I am contemplating the first fruits of this year. Hopefully, I will have a clearer picture of my life and the year as the time draws near. God's biggest work in my life has been the publication of my first book in March 2008. Just as the seeds are planted in the spring, this book represents the seeds of my labor. After watching, watering, and nurturing, it is now time for reflection, thanksgiving, and planning next year's crop. How that will manifest in the natural I do not know. I do know that the Lord is using the seeds planted to his good purpose. As a writer, I am trying to figure out the whole of my offering and sacrifice. Understanding it is a challenge.
I know that part of my sacrifice has to do with giving up expectations, allowing God to us me with those he puts in my path. I am amazed with the women I have been met and been in contact with since March. Grandmothers and writers extraordinaire! Believing women in this country are amazing and their stories will confound the wise. God is indeed on the move. From every age and walk of life women are gathering their stories as a legacy to the next generation. Witnesses of God's mercy abound; testimonies of God's faithfulness come in every shape and size.
What are your stories? Mine are written down in story form. By the mercy of God they were published. What are yours? Who are you telling and what are you doing with them? Are you passing them down, especially to the next generation?
Another part of my sacrifice has to do with letting go of the flesh, living in the spirit - giving God glory in all things. For me this is harder than one might think. Apparently I like credit and glory more than I thought. But God and I are working on that. The first fruits of my labor have become the first fruits of his righteousness. That I see. He alone opens doors, he closes them. My job is to get in line with his program. A worldly harvest supports no gain. Only a harvest of his righteousness will do. He will bring in the sheaves at the appropriate time. My job is to walk on his path. Working side by side in his field, harvesting his crop, is surely a new beginning for me.
I see seeds and first fruits everywhere. The growth and expansion of Heartbeat World the Magazine and the website are definitely first fruits. Women's stories, as they use their gifts and talents for the Lord, have been gathered and placed in my memory. Weavers, singers, missionaries, writers, teachers, and evangelists are all proclaiming the gospel in their own way. The storehouses are full. Expanding the seeds of these storehouses is what it is all about.
Thanks be to God!
Marty Norman lives in Fort Worth , Texas and is the mother of two and grandmother of four. She is a free-lance writer and the author of “Generation G – Advice for Savvy Grandmothers Who Will Never Go Gray.” www.amazon.com , www.martynorman.com . She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org