Last year in school the kids and I read a book called The Journeyman by Elizabeth Yates. A portion of the story takes place in New Hampshire in 1815 and 1816. After a long, very hard winter, the calendar shows that spring should be forthcoming any day. Yet winter still refuses to release its iron grip. Small signs of thaw and warmth finally seem to appear here and there, and anxious farmers ready their crops only for winter to return at the most inopportune time and destroy them. Fortunately, the farmers still have seed, so they wait a little while longer and plant again. Again frost rears its head in untimely fashion and a second crop is destroyed. Some farmers have the resources to plant again. And again. Three, then four crops are destroyed by frost as summer never comes.
Although The Journeyman is fictional, it is based on a real summer – the summer of 1816 – when there was no summer. The eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia on April 10, 1815, actually caused a temporary climate change around the world, affecting North America over a year after the eruption.
I can only imagine what that “summer” was like for those people. But, if they were anything like the characters in the book, many of them just kept planting, hoping that summer had finally come – what else were they to do?
When challenges and troubles hit our lives, do we keep planting? Do we keep sowing the Word of God in our own lives, the lives of our children, and the lives of those around us? Even when every seed seems to be stolen from us, do we keep sowing? Even when the crop seems dead, do we keep sowing? Or do we give up? Do we let the endless winter rob us of even the ability to try?
I confess that I’ve been through winters that I thought should have been summers and have given up. I have given up on continually feeding the Word of God into the shivering portions of my soul. When summer finally did roll around, the crop was not there. Thankfully, a second chance was there. But even so, I grieved the loss of the opportunity to be gathering in a late harvest – if only I’d kept sowing.
I can also say, though, that there have been other endless winters when I have persevered in the sowing. Maybe not as fervently as I could have or should have. Maybe with seed that seemed a little less than great. But, at least I was sowing. Some of those winters have ended with greater harvests that others, but those are the winters in which I’ve grown the most. Persevered the most. Been strengthened the most.
When the winter of your soul seems to stretch on longer than it should, keep sowing. Spring might bring the continued frigid winds instead of the thawing sun, but keep sowing. Summer might be but a teasing warm breeze on an otherwise frozen ground, but keep sowing. Those seeds are the Lords, and they will bear fruit. Summer will come. Harvest will happen. Just keep sowing.