You would not think much of a person who decides to become a farmer, buys acres upon acres of land and then goes down to the store to ask for just a few seeds. The seed merchant asks why he is buying so little in view of the vast fields he has. Well,” says the would-be farmer, “I want to test the seed and see how it grows before I do much labor. I wouldn’t want to waste my time.” He then goes home, takes one seed, puts it in the ground, waters it and waits for it to sprout. Assuming it does sprout, he fertilizes it and tends its growth. The problem is that by the time he knows whether or not that seed will take root, the growing season is past.
Some Christians witness in the same way. They won’t invest themselves in witnessing to many or sowing much seed because they first want to see results from a small investment. God guarantees the quality of the gospel seed. It is not stale, it is not sterile, yet even under ideal growing conditions, not all of the Gospel Seed sprouts. Some of it is caught away by birds, other seeds are not positioned deeply enough to grow, and then there are those that sprout but, under the heat of the sun, wither and die. Nevertheless, as we sow much seed in the field, there will be much return.
Our faith does not require us to believe that every seed that we plant will sprout, grow and become fruitful. What our faith requires us to do is trust that if we sow enough seed, there will be a harvest in God’s field.
Many people try to witness and are disappointed in the results. And when they are disappointed, they grow disheartened and when they are disheartened, they lose their courage…until the idea of witnessing looms like an insurmountable task.
Nevertheless, our disappointments are God’s appointments. He who arranges all things can, by innumerable small events and episodes that we call coincidences, make impressions upon the hearts of the those He is winning to Himself. When it comes to witnessing, our hope rests not on our planning nor our presentation—but on the sure and certain knowledge that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to Him. God accomplishes the conversion of sinners through various people who take part in the many witnessing opportunities He appoints to win an individual. Likewise, the person who would take satisfaction in witnessing must witness to many.
The parable of the sower shows us that while many seeds are strewn, only a few grow and come to fruition. Yet it is difficult for a believer in Jesus to accept that many seeds we sow will not come to fruition, or at least not in a time and place known to us. It is also difficult to accept the fact that the most we can hope for is to play a small part in any person’s conversion process. It is human nature to want to be the principle party or agent in another’s conversion, but God uses many people to make impressions. He uses many to give energy to those impressions through prayer—the kind of prayer that moves mountains and rips blindfolds from the eyes. It therefore makes sense that every believer should touch as many lives as possible with the gospel.
We cannot allow ourselves to become disappointed because the first seeds we plant do not grow and sprout. Each seed has a sprouting and growing and fruition appointment with God. Likewise, those of us who have witnessed over the years have encountered people who resisted the Word of God or they desisted from listening. Some even blistered when they understood what we were saying, but much to our surprise and joy, we later found that through other means, they came to faith in Yeshua.
God is constantly reaching out through the Holy Spirit, wooing people, making small impressions, creating questions in people’s minds and hearts. Sometimes an impression is made by a funeral oration, or the verse on a Christmas card, or classical music such as Handel’s Messiah. These impressions are gospel seeds, the person’s heart is a field, and though that heart might be hardened, all of us have seen granite cracked by the seed of a tree that lodged itself in a crevice. Thus, we can understand the proper prayer for the witnessing Christian is this: “Lord, may you send more seed to fall on the heart of my friend, may they take many impressions of you. Open their hearts and open their minds that the gospel seed which you are sowing through so many of your servants might take root.”