The Red Wings are without a loss, but have played only one game. The Lions appear to be on the edge of disaster, but who knows? The Spartans and Wolverines have aspirations of glory, even with one disappointing loss for each. The routine returns.
It returns during my week as well. Sunday's preaching is followed by some great and productive conversations, CrossTraining visitations, and another service. The week includes two FHL groups reuniting, my regular Wednesday meetings with men over coffee, and commitments for three out of four nights.
And people start coming out of the woodwork. On one day three different families contact me about baptisms. One day a great new opportunity comes to STL, and the next day another fast-growing ministry is faced with a sudden and disappointing challenge. New and old contacts emerge in a variety of ways. The returns, it seems, from seeds that have been planted, are anything but routine.
The parable of the sower in many ways is a follow-up to Isaiah 55. "For as the rain and snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace." (Isaiah 55.10-12) After telling the parable of the sower, Jesus asks the question, "Do you not understand this parable?" He then explains, "The sower sows the word." (Mark 4.13-14) And, as he goes on to say, the returns vary.
I love the summer - and this year was a great one ... the heat ... the sun ... the flexibility ... the change of routine ... the length of the days ... the freedom. The list goes on and on.
Fall, I am told, arrives on Saturday, September 22 at 9:54 p.m. And I must say, as much as I love the summer, I also very much enjoy autumn. The cooler evenings ... the changing colors ... the drop in humidity ... and the return of routine. A break from routine is generally healthy and welcomed, but total dissolution can be disastrous!
It is because, you see, routines have returns! Study after study indicates that a consistent bed time is healthy, not just for children, but for adults as well. And we all know what the routines of eating right and exercising do for one's health. To these temporal fixes we add the routine that produces temporal and eternal results: seed planing.
We are urged to "plant the seed of God's Word, in season and out of season." (2 Timothy 4.2). It starts with routinely reading the Word, listening to it, discussing it with others. And it continues as your routine expands to sharing God's Word of hope with others. The returns, according to God's promise in Christ Jesus, are anything but routine from a worldly perspective! Rather, as he clearly promises, "you shall go out in joy, and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." (Isaiah 55.12)
Now that's a return that I will welcome routinely!