Everybody's Different

Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation may spring up, and let it cause righteousness to sprout up also; I the Lord have created it.
Isaiah 45:8
The earth that yields seed to the sower and bread to the eater has received its constitution from God; and it is governed through his wise providence by fixed laws that are infinitely reliable; and yet, at the same time, with such diversified conditions and minute peculiarities as may well convince us that the Almighty intended the operations of nature to supply us with spiritual instruction as well as with material good. He who ordained the seed time and the harvest meant to teach us by them. Nor has he left us in vague uncertainty as to the lessons we should learn! In metaphor and parable he has interpreted them to us. The author of the Bible is also the architect of the universe. The book that is writ and the things that are made alike bear witness to his eternal power and Godhead. He who shall study them both will see clearly the idioms of one author. 

Thus the great English preacher Charles Spurgeon began one of his sermons. One of his points, obviously, was that we can look to God's work in nature to find metaphors for God's work on the human soul. Some of the similarities between the world without and the world within present themselves fully explained. But something occurs to me here that I had never really given much thought to before.

There is no single formula for agriculture. The amount of rain, the length of daylight hours, the balance between warm weather and cool differ from place to place. And so the crop produced in Ohio is very different from what's grown in Florida. But even in a single location, weather conditions are never exactly the same. And so farmers have to adjust the methods depending on what's happening during a particular growing season. Planting on the same day each year in the same field, supplying the same amount of fertilizer and harvesting this year's crop exactly 365 days after last year's harvest was brought in—this only works some of the time. Most years it's not ideal, and some years it may prove disastrous.

And so it is when we think about the people God sends our way. No two are alike. There is no single formula for communicating with all people, for ministering to them, for sharing with them the good news. And so God would have us be patient and sensitive, for unless we know who we're talking to as well as their situation and history, we might as well be a recorded message that's as likely to be ignored as it is to be listened to.

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
 2 Corinthians 9:10
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Help me to listen as well as to speak, and may your Spirit, O God, guide me in the ways I deal with others.
After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.
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