“Cornelius said, ‘Four days ago to this hour, I was praying in my house during the ninth hour; and behold, a man stood before me in shining garments, and he said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Therefore send to Joppa and invite Simon, who is also called Peter, to come to you; he is staying at the house of Simon the tanner by the sea.’ So I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.’” Acts 10:30-33
(Friends, you really do have to read the book before the movie comes out in this situation. Would you quick go read all of Acts 10? I’ll even leave it right here for you.)
Essentially, God preordains this meeting between Cornelius and Peter. He gives them each a pretty trippy dream to prepare them for the other’s company. Cornelius was terrified and Peter was confused, but they both moved forward with what God had announced to them in their visions. They met each other, under direction from the Holy Spirit, and surely as God does, incredible things happened. Peter opened his mouth with the good news, Cornelius opened his heart to hear, and the waters of baptism opened wide for new believers that very day.
My husband prays for these types of encounters with international students, for “Cornelius appointments”. This week, in fact, it won’t be uncommon for him to approach students to begin new friendships on the college campus where he works. Having prayerfully asked God to bring students who are hungry for truth and friendship, year after year we see these “chance” encounters and praise God for them.
This week you’ll hear some pretty incredible stories of God-ordained appointments, and He’s been setting these up for centuries. The ways in which His love and truth go forward are never dull or boring, because no person we ever come in contact with is a mere mortal, but an eternally-existing, purposefully created, image-of-God bearing soul. Whether you see this person every waking morning, or whether it was a flash-in-the-pan, Craigslist style “missed connection”, if Christ has laid hold of your life, you carry His kingdom within yourself everywhere you go.
Here is one thing though: harvest comes later than the sewing, and we have no control over the unseen root work God does beneath the soul of a human heart. We don’t always get to see the results of our acts of love, but that’s not the point anyway.
Five years ago when I was home from Japan on a six week home assignment, driving the clunker car I had borrowed and out of my prepaid cell phone minutes, I broke down on the side of a busy intersection near a fancy mall. For half an hour fancy cars on their way to Nordstrom drove past me with my hood up and obviously needing help. Where did God send help from? From Rio, the gentleman pan-handling on the other side of the intersection, who had the same Nokia prepaid cell phone I did (it was ancient, you guys) and a pair of boots in his backpack. I apologized profusely for spending his minutes, but his kindness and generosity of spirit left a life-impression on me. We chatted for the long time it took for someone to come and jump my car. God had sent me more than just help for a broken down car, He had given me a real life illustration that living generously has nothing to do with our wealth, but how a person purposes to use them. I’m so thankful for Rio.
In the children’s book “Miss Rumphius” by Barbara Cooney (again, so good, go borrow it from your library!) young Alice Rumphius lies recovering from an injury watching lupines out her bedroom window. The following spring she is delighted to find the lupines have spread to a patch far down a hill, and sets out to spread lupine seeds sprinkled from her pockets everywhere she goes, transforming her town into blue and purple blooms years later.
Could it be this is the work God has given us to do? Sewing seeds of His perfect truth and love, spreading to places we least expect it, leaving a wake of transformation behind us?
He is, after all, the Lord of the harvest.
Once we have gazed on His beauty and glory, received His mercy by the divine appointments He’s set up for us (do you even know how many seeds of truth were sewn in your life before it grew to salvation? Possibly countless!), we now are free to set about strewing seeds, both small and large, all about us. Won’t it be a lovely day in glory when at last we see what business He’s sent us about! On this side of eternity we get but a quick glance before our seed is covered with fertile soil and He does the unseen work.
Let’s sew the seeds anyway. He is the perfect Gardener!