February 20, 2006
Well, my pastor friends, ever feel discouraged after another week at church? Another sermon preached and little–if any–fruit seen? Charles Bridges has a word of encouragement for YOU. From his classic book The Christian Ministry (p. 75): "Ministerial success must be viewed as extending beyond present appearances. The seed may lie under the clods till we lie there, and then spring up."
Do you know what Bridges means? God faithfully uses our work in ways we never imagine, and we never even see–in this life. One great illustration of that comes from the life of the puritan minister John Flavel. Flavel died in 1691 after a long ministry and many trials. But though Flavel had been called home, his ministry continued to bear fruit.
Michael Boland, in his 1963 introduction to a reprinting of Flavel’s wonderful book, Mystery of Providence, recounts the example of Luke Short. "Luke Short was a farmer in New England who attained his hundredth year in exceptional vigour though without having sought peace with God. One day as he sat in his fields reflecting upon his long life, he recalled a sermon he had heard in Dartmouth [England] as a boy before he sailed to America. The horror of dying under the curse of God was impressed upon him as he meditated on the words he had heard so long ago and he was converted to Christ–eighty-five years after hearing John Flavel preach."
"The seed may lie under the clods till we lie there, and then spring up." Amen.