I have the privilege of praying for dear friends who are a farming family. Never before have I paid so much attention to drought forecasts and tornado warning and snowstorm predictions in the Midwest.
I can't be there to be part of the work, but by her Facebook posts and watching the weather, I can pray...and pray...and pray. I hope I am praying effectively. Lord willing, one day I will walk their fields with them and see the fruits of their labor. If not, at least I can continue pray.
Shouldn't that be the way that we look at dealing with our unbelieving friends, associates, and...gulp...unbelieving family?
Family can know where all the chinks in the armor are. They can rile you quicker, and laugh harder than any others when you fail and fall.
I had a discussion with my dear friend Carol regarding witnessing to her unbelieving family. She had been lamenting to her husband and son about their demands on her for money-motivated demonstrations of her love. Her son had a response that stilled her.
Mom, it might not be for them that you are behaving as a Christian and providing for and putting up with them. It might be a witness to their neighbors.
Wise words. Not direct planting, but part of the process nonetheless. In turn, maybe another family member of that neighbor can be the ones to get through to Carol's family, bringing them to the Lord. For that we can definitely pray.
All in all, this is a complex process. We can only see our own little piece of it, and can be tempted to believe it is the most important piece. Truly, though, it takes all these pieces to make the "planting" successful. And it is not us who bring the increase. It is the Lord Himself.
So, when with others, I cannot be direct with them in the planting of gospel seeds...whether due to distance or resistance...I can still pray for hands that will be there to do that work. And I can realize that my prayers may be just what it takes to strengthen the other person for the work at hand.
Thanks be to God for giving us a part of the work, whatever part He may give us.
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. - 1 Corinthians 3:6-9