If you know me well, you know that one of my favorite genres of music is Southern Gospel, in particular, the Gaither Vocal Band. A few years ago the Gaithers included the Twin Cities on their tour. My husband, knowing how much I loved them, bought tickets for us to go to the concert. Not only did he buy tickets, he bought tickets four rows from the stage! It almost felt like I was up on stage as David Phelps sang! One song sung that night was new to me. I’m not sure who actually wrote it, but the verses were sung that night were performed by Mark Lowry. The song is titled, Sow Mercy. The last several days, the words to the song have been playing on repeat in my head. I’ll get to why in a minute. First, I want to include the lyrics:
“I can see her now, her weathered skin
Old straw hat and crooked grin
And she said child, let’s make this garden grow.
Let’s till the soil, and pull some weeds
And here’s your bag of precious seeds
‘Cause grandma’s got a secret you should know
You always reap exactly what you sow
Words are like water, sprinkled with love
You will harvest all your heart’s been dreaming of
We knelt right there and she took my hand
That patch of dirt was Holy land
And she said child I learned this long ago
Oh, you can bless or curse
You can live or die
You choose the crop you want in life
That’s the greatest secret Grandma knows
You always reap exactly what you sow
‘Cause one day God forbid, you act a fool
And fall down hard and fast, ’cause life is cruel
If you ever reached to help a friend
A hand you held might lift you up again
What goes around comes back around you know
You always reap exactly what you sow.”
The concept of sowing and reaping isn’t new. In fact, Jesus uses the illustration in the New Testament to help illustrate something to his disciples. Paul reminds both the Corinthians and Galatians of the concept. Every farmer understands this principle, as does every gardener. My dad enjoyed gardening. I remember being sent out to his backyard garden on summer mornings to pick the vegetables that were ripened. It isn’t rocket science, really. If you hold in your hand seeds from a packet displaying a picture of a tomato, when those seeds are planted, tended to, and eventually grow, one would expect a plant that produces tomatoes. Imagine how surprised the farmer or gardener would be if the plant growing next to the little wooden stake that says “tomato” did not hold tomatoes, but instead, produced green beans.
The lyrics to the song, of course, are not referring to an actual vegetable or fruit plant. Rather, the song is trying to warn us that we need to pay attention to what we sow, for whatever that may be will be what grows in our lives and, I would say, the lives of the people around us. How often do we hear someone say they were destined to be a smoker or a drinker or some other characteristic because it is what the person grew up seeing. We know that some sins can be generational sins. I believe abuse falls into this category. If a son sees his father hit his mom, the boy may, and statistics say more than likely will, grow up thinking that hitting his wife is acceptable behavior.
So why the sudden remembrance of this song?
There are some situations in my life right now that have left me wondering if maybe the difficult things are happening because I deserve them? Going back to the reap and sow principle–did I sow that which is being reaped in my life right now?
Did I sow lack of perseverance?
Did I sow disrespect?
Did I sow selfishness?
Did I sow anger?
As I think on some of these things, the guilt level is admittedly high. I know there were many times I chose to make myself happy over others in our home. I know there were numerous occasions where I threatened to quit. I didn’t, but the threat was sometimes there. I know there were many occasions where I lost control of my temper. Of course, I blamed it on something else–I was tired, I didn’t feel well, one of the kids, my husband, or even the dog pushed all the right buttons that made me fly off the handle.
If I could turn back the hands of time, I would be more careful about what I sow. Maybe, then, I wouldn’t be reaping such painful things in my life right now.