Reaping and Sowing

It’s funny how sometimes a familiar truth can surface years later in a completely different context. I once heard a teacher say:

1. You reap what you sow … you know, like when you plant seeds in a garden. Seeds grow. All kinds of seeds – good and bad. This is one of those gardening truths that reflects life. Just as planting seeds produces plants, so our actions ‘produce’ repercussions. I think we forget that this is true – a lot. We forget until something we have done comes back around to bite us in the ass. Suddenly our memory becomes a little better. Most people only think about this truth in terms of the bad things we do, but our right choices bear fruit as well. Maybe if we ever could really remember this, we would be more committed to making good choices day-in and day-out … like the choice to be kind to the rude check-out clerk, or refusing to tell a white lie when no one else would be the wiser. Those actions ‘pay’ us too, like the food that can come out of a weed-free garden.

2. You reap more than you sow. Have you ever noticed that? I remember making that mistake once with marigolds. Oh, it was okay the first season, but the next year my little plot was overrun. I hadn’t counted on the multiplication theory of planting. The plants I had grown from seeds produced their own seeds that proceeded to grow out of my control the next season. Sometimes that can be a good thing … depends on the plant, I guess. In life our actions act like a snowball. A great example is a white lie. It will work for you until someone starts asking questions. Suddenly you find that the lie starts to grow. It gets harder to remember the cover-up lies supporting the first one. Everything seems to get out of control, like my little marigold plot. But be encouraged! Even though I used a negative example of ‘snowballing’, I hope you recall that this works in the other direction too. The good things we do will reap a harvest as well – and it, too, will be greater than what we sow.

3. You reap later than you sow. For me, bulbs are the best example of this. Bulbs go in the ground in late fall, just before the first frost. For an entire season absolutely nothing happens. When I first tried planting bulbs it was tempting about 3 months in to dig a-ways down just to see if  my little ‘seeds’ were germinating. Thankfully I resisted the temptation. Else how would I have experienced the promise of spring as my crocuses peeked out of the cold, hard ground in early March? The rest of my bulbs came even later, some waiting until May to show up, in spite of the fact that they all went in the ground over the same 2 days. I have found that in life, reaping happens about every 10 years … what you sow in your teens you won’t reap until your 20’s and so on. I don’t know why our actions take so long to bear fruit, but they do. Maybe it’s because we are sowing into people, and it takes time for the full fruit of our actions to mature in both ourselves and others.

These truths were brought home to me in a vivid manner recently when I watched a YouTube explanation of 9-11 (which is no longer available for viewing or I would have posted it here … something about an alleged copyright violation). The video dealt with a concept called ‘blowback.’ From Wikipedia:

Blowback is the espionage term for unintended consequences of a covert operation that are suffered by the civil population of the aggressor government. To the civilians suffering the blowback of covert operations, the effect typically manifests itself as “random” acts of political violence without a discernible, direct cause; because the public—in whose name the intelligence agency acted—are ignorant of the effected secret attacks that provoked revenge (counter-attack) against them.[1] Specifically, blowback denotes the resultant, violent consequences—reported as news fact, by domestic and international mass communications media, when the actor intelligence agency hides its responsibility via media manipulation. Generally, blowback loosely denotes every consequence of every aspect of a secret attack operation, thus, it is synonymous with consequence—the attacked victims’ revenge against the civil populace of the aggressor country, because the responsible politico-military leaders are invulnerable.

When I saw the video I knew that I was seeing the principle of reaping and sowing in real-life action, and it broke my heart. So much blame has been thrown around for 9-11 – from Bin Laden to the conspiracy theories blaming our own government. But the simple truth is that you reap what you sow – on every level – country, state, city, family, individual. In fact, we continue to reap from our response to the tragedy of the Twin Towers … we are reaping, we are reaping more, and we are reaping later:

The 9/11 attacks resulted in 2,996 casualties, which included 343 firefighters and 59 police officers who were in trying to save victims inside the World Trade Center. The War on Terror launched by George W. Bush Jr. has led to at least 227,000 people (more than 300,000 according to other estimates). This includes 116,657 civilians (51%) between 76  – 108,000 insurgents or Taliban Islamists (34% to 36%), 25,297 Iraqi and Afghan soldiers (11%), and 8,975 American, British, and other coalition forces (3.9%). Source:

It would seem that my reaping/sowing principles are coming down on the heads of those who attacked us, but this cycle did not start on September 11, 2001. Blowback for US actions beginning 50 years previous brought about the attack on New York and DC. We do ourselves and the world a disservice when we refuse to acknowledge that our actions have consequences. Ultimately, each person can only be responsible for their own actions. However, as a country we will be held accountable for the actions of our leaders.

I am reminded that when Israel went into captivity to Babylon, there was still a faithful remnant who had refused to worship idols. Yet, all Israel was held captive, the faithful with the unfaithful. We all suffer the choices of our leaders when it’s time for the harvest. I hope the next time you go into a voting booth, you’ll think about how the fundamental beliefs and past actions of those on the ballot will affect our lives and those of our children when it’s time for the reaping to begin. May God make us mindful of how our choices today will affect our future and the future of those around us.

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