“Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 9 As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” 10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. 11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.”- 2 Corinthians 9:6-11
In his book “Fields of Gold” Andy Stanley tells the story of a man named Jeremiah Clary and his experience on the Oklahoma panhandle during the great dust bowl. Through poor cultivation practices in the 1920’s and a drought that began in 1931, 100 million acres of hopes and dreams were baking in the sun. The drought would last a decade, and many called it the black blizzard. Jeremiah was devastated financially and had no income for five years, and his situation was at a point where he couldn’t afford to keep up the routine much longer. It was planting season, and he had seeds stockpiled in the barn. These were the last seeds he had because each time he had planted before, it had been blown away.
Like other farmers, he developed a psychological aversion to sowing as his mind was bombarded with the what-ifs, and a strange attachment develops between his remaining bags of seed and himself. Jeremiah was not a greedy man; he was simply filled with fear. A few weeks passed, and some of the other farmers began to plant again. There weren’t many days left before the window for germination would slam shut, and another hot summer would begin. Jeremiah trembled with indecision, if he didn’t plant soon, he would not even have a meager crop, and all would be lost. Yet, if he planted the last of his seed and the winds came again, all would be lost. Jeremiah was filled with uncertainty, which led him to slowly become irrational.
Every day you and I live in a dust bowl of uncertainty, and we are filled with “what ifs.” Many times, we become like Jeremiah Clary; we are not greedy; we are just a little irrational with fear. What happens next is that we struggle with a fear to sow. The Bible addresses over and over how God is calling us to be generous stewards and not fearful owners promising that we will not be wiped out.
In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he commends them for their generosity to another church in another city but as he writes to them, you can tell he senses the tension they are having between generosity and fear. Paul tells them not to let fear stop their generosity, and that ultimately, God is paying attention to how we use our wealth, and he desires to partner with us to accomplish the transformation of the world. We can’t let fear hold us back from being generous.
Andy Stanley finished the story of Jeremiah Clary in his book. Jeremiah stayed in his barn looking at his last bags of seed, struggling to keep a rational mind. He took a deep breath, opened the doors to the barn, and decided to put his hand on the plow one more time. As he mounted his Massey Ferguson six months later, he surveyed the richest crop on record in Harper county. It was like he was driving into a pot of gold. Those farmers who feared planting were packing up empty-handed and leaving on that same day. On the other hand, as far as he could see, Jeremiah had a field full of wheat, and fear was nowhere to be found.