SPRINGFIELD – Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.
Those two verses from Ps. 126 gave the Sowing in Tears Conference Jan. 27 and 28 its theme, and the short, six-verse chapter was the subject of an exposition by Tony Preston, professor of pastoral leadership at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“I look, as do you, for a great harvest,” Preston said. “I long for a season when the Father will bring in a harvest of souls for the glory of the Savior and the benefit of those He will save. I look to you with the hope that we will be part of that great harvest.”
The 126th Psalm’s author isn’t satisfied to merely be aware God’s blessings and grace in the past; he wants to see the Lord’s providence in the coming days as well. Then he moves to a promise:
“Who among us will be able to shout with joy, bringing our sheaves with us?” Preston asked.
He offered a three-part answer to that question from the text.
“Those of us whose faith is founded upon the reality and the necessity of divine intervention,” he said. “The work to which we have been called is a work of God. It is a work that only God can accomplish. “
Just like the Israelites were in bondage and powerless to free themselves, so is the church unable to see a harvest of souls without God’s power?
“When was the last time you saw something in your congregation that nobody could take credit for but the Lord,” he asked. “It takes God to get this done.”
The second answer:
“It is those who have exercised our faith in divine intervention on our knees,” Preston said. “Who will bring in the harvest? Those whose faith expresses itself in broken passion before God, pleading for the heavens to open and for the winds of God to blow, and for the Holy Spirit to do it again, in our generation, in this congregation, in our time, for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.”
“There is captivity present in the author’s day and there is captivity in our day,” he said. “Every generation and every congregation experiences captivity, challenge, trial, temptation and stumbling.”
Finally, those who “go” will sow in tears and reap with laughter.
“The Hebrew is there, a hungry Hebrew, with a small bag of seed and acres and acres of ground,” Preston said. “Does he sit down with his family with that small bag of seed, turn that into flower, turn that into bread, enjoy a meal and die? Or does he take that handful of grain and go out to that fallow, hard, parched, dry ground and in a spirit of faith, throw that seed into that dry, lifeless soil, trusting that God will send the rain. Hearts are hard. But listen, it is no harder than it was in Jesus’ day.
“And we go to and fro, and we go sowing that seed – the gospel of Jesus Christ. That message is the seed that we must sow everywhere, no prejudice, no reservation, no holding back, no ignoring one so that you might sow to another, but everywhere, everyday, all the time.”