Never sowing because the clouds aren’t right

I first wrote about this passage almost exactly 3 years ago today. It still resonates with me as deeply today as it did then.

Ecclesiastes 11
1 Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. 2 Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth. 3 If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth,and if a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie. 4 He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.

5 As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.

6 In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

Cast your bread on the water. You won’t see the results for a while, but after many days, it will return to you. Give all your portions away, and then give one more portion you didn’t even know you had. The rain will come when it’s going to come. The tree is going to fall where it falls. And if you stand around trying to figure out when and where, you’ll never sow your seed or reap the harvest. You cannot figure out My ways no matter how hard you try, so stop over analyzing life. Put your hand to the plow. Sow. I WILL bring harvest—in My time and My ways.

This is a poignant word from God to me. I often feel that I have given all my portions away only to find that I still need to give one more. Many days I catch myself sitting around analyzing the storm clouds in my life to the point that I never sow. And many times I despair because I haven’t yet seen the bread I cast on the water return to me.

Right now, I particularly struggle with mustering up the energy to engage at all. I don’t want to sow, but I’m done watching the storm clouds too. It’s just easier to ignore them altogether. Vacation was good for me, but putting my hand back to the plow has not come easily since my return. The house is too messy, the kids too undisciplined, and the laundry basket too high to talk myself into even beginning. It’s easier to finish the fiction book I was reading on vacation than to step back into the chaos that is my life and actually engage.

It doesn’t matter how deep the water or foreboding the clouds, says God. Stay engaged. Cast your bread and sow your seed. Sow some in the morning. Sow some in the evening. You don’t know what will prosper. Maybe one. Maybe another. Or maybe all of it will bear fruit for the kingdom. Regardless, don’t get discouraged by what you don’t see happening or all that you need to do. Sow your seeds one by one. Give away your portions. The bread cast away will find you again after many days.

11 Responses to Never sowing because the clouds aren’t right

  1. Vicki August 24, 2011 at 12:43 am #

    thanks, this is a helpful word!

  2. Mandy August 24, 2011 at 2:43 am #

    I love this. It's like sweet words to the soul! Thanks for writing!!

  3. Luma August 24, 2011 at 7:10 am #

    May I gently encourage you with the words of Elisabeth Elliot, “just do the next thing.” Many times, I have had to remind myself of this.

    I saw this on Justin Taylor's website, the poem is entitled “Do The Next Thing”

    From an old English parsonage down by the sea
    There came in the twilight a message to me;
    Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
    Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
    And on through the doors the quiet words ring
    Like a low inspiration: “DO THE NEXT THING.”

    Many a questioning, many a fear,
    Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
    Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
    Time, opportunity, and guidance are given.
    Fear not tomorrows, child of the King,
    Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing

    Do it immediately, do it with prayer;
    Do it reliantly, casting all care;
    Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
    Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
    Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
    Leave all results, do the next thing

    Looking for Jesus, ever serener,
    Working or suffering, be thy demeanor;
    In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
    The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
    Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing.
    Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.

  4. Wendy August 24, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    Thanks, Luma. That's a good encouragement. I love Elizabeth Elliot.

  5. Laryssa August 24, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    LOVED & *needed* this today. Thank you!

  6. Laryssa August 24, 2011 at 6:54 pm #

    Ooops, I think I put my comment in the wrong place. 🙂

  7. Laryssa August 24, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    Comment was in right place…I wasn't viewing it properly (so sorry about that). As I said before, thank you Wendy! This post was beyond timely. I'm greatly encouraged!

  8. Seda August 27, 2011 at 4:57 am #

    Thank you, Wendy.

    I am grateful that scripture speaks to us in pictures, as well as words. Casting bread upon water is such a poignant imagery.

  9. Anonymous August 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your heart and strengthen you in every good deed and word. 2 Thess 2:16-17

  10. mom_of_4 August 29, 2011 at 2:12 am #

    Thank you. I found this at just the right time. It spoke right to my heart.

  11. Katie Bowman September 2, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

    beautiful Wendy. I am going back to that Scripture today and digging a little deeper. THanks for the nudge 🙂