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Southerland family Sunday worship, edited

A Season for Growing by Rev. Casey Southerland (May 2020 Banner)

A growing season is the time of the year when conditions are right for a plant to grow.In Cincinnati, we have had several nights where frost hinders the growth of many plants, but the hardy plants, like the grass in our lawns, is already beginning to grow.  The grass seeds I planted in bare spots in my lawn are just beginning to sprout from the soil.The days we are living in, with their quarantines and stay-home orders, may seem to be less fruitful than other times, but James helps us to see this is a very valuable season for growing in the Lord.You may remember that James told Christians at that time who were scattered in many different places to “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

The past few months have certainly constituted a season of trial for most of us.For some the trial is physical—they are dealing with poor or failing health.For some, the trial is economic—their hours have been cut back, they’ve been laid off, or even had their job eliminated.For nearly everyone on the planet, the trial has had a very strong social component.This part of the trial ranges from distancing from others to complete quarantine.Dealing with these difficulties and limitations has presented everyone with a unique set of challenges.As you can imagine, the challenges to those laboring in missions has its own set of challenges as well.Not only are we not supposed to greet those we serve with a handshake or hug,are told by civil authorities we are not even to be in their physical presence unless they are getting married or we are conducting a funeral.And, if that’s the case, then no more than ten loved ones are able to be present.These are difficult times indeed.

So, what are you and I to do with days like these?How are we to count it all joy, redeem the time, and spend these days heartily, as to the Lord and not unto men?The Word of God says, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31).Whatever you do!What are you even allowed to do? And how can this be a season of growth?

With the technology and resources available to us in the 21st century, we can thank the Lord that a great many things which are good for our souls can be done without violating any local ordinance restricting our movements within our communities.In fact, you may recall that the Lord withdrew even from the disciples in order to commune with the Father.If your home is packed with little ones (or noisy big people) you may need to shut a door and go into a prayer closet, but for most of us, this time can be redeemed with more quiet time in communion with our Heavenly Father in the pursuit of godliness.

There have been news stories of professional athletes who were going to miss their season due to injury before their season was put on hold.Many of them have been using the last few months to rest, recover and prepare to rejoin their team even stronger when their season resumes.This can be a time of strengthening for you too.What preparations can you make so that, when this shift in the action is over, you are ready to rejoin your brothers and sisters in the ministry of the gospel?When Joshua was preparing to lead God’s people to possess the Promised Land he was given instruction that I would commend to you as well:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.   (Joshua 1:8-9)

May the Lord grant you grace to grow in this trying season so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. A

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