Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
Psalm 126:5-6 (ESV)
Stepping out of my car into the brightness of a Texas sunset, I paused in front of the unfamiliar church where I was meeting some friends from school. The building was older, with grey nondescript brick and was smaller than the sanctuary of my “mega-church” across the street. What’s so special about this? I thought to myself as I judged the outdated building, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that when I walked inside, the lobby was open and modern enough for my tastes. The people standing in small groups were older, but they seemed nice enough. I mean, when they turned to watch eight unknown teenagers walk into their small church, they at least refrained from glaring.
We made our way into the small sanctuary and found a row of seats together before the worship service started. I sat and gazed about the room: I observed that my group and the worship leaders were the youngest people there, and I also made a mental note that there were boxes of tissues sitting quietly at the end of each pew. I asked no questions.
When the band struck up the music, we rose to our feet, and the atmosphere swiftly began to change. Now, all the old people cheered, clapped, danced, knelt, and lifted their arms into the air, and we stood there shocked at the transformation that had just occurred before our very eyes. The worship leaders jumped around and laughed, and I found myself laughing along with them. By the time we sang “How He Loves,” we were sucked into the moment, swaying and singing out, but when the song was over, the music kept going, and we started singing it again. God was in that room, penetrating it like WD40 and making us looser and more vulnerable to his undying love. He is jealous for me. Then the song slowly died, and there was silence. Simple silence. Prayers went up from every corner of the room. Yes, Jesus, yes. He was in the whispers.
The pastor gently pulled us out of the quiet and called the altar team up to the front. Confused about the role of an altar team, I followed our group to the back corner, where we sat together and prayed. But you can’t fit God in a box. He wanted to reveal a layer of himself we’d never seen: a supernatural, awesome God. Inspired by this revelation, we walked up to the altar team, and each one of us was taken aside and individually prayed over by a part of the team.
A short, round woman with wiry black hair and a sweet face took my hands and asked me my name with a gentle smile. Her eyes were reassuring but penetrating.
“You brought your purse up here with you,” she said.
It sounded like a question, and I was worried that she assumed that I thought somebody in her church would steal it, so I quickly explained, “Yes, we were moving around and I didn’t want to leave it-”
“The bag,” she interrupted, “symbolizes your seed. The work you do. The bag of seed you carry with you. You are Johnny Appleseed.” I could feel my eyebrows crease. What on earth is she talking about? I felt like Dorothy whose possessions were scrutinized by the psychic for clues before he gazed into the crystal ball for her. The faith I had put in this woman to share a new revelation of God with me was slowly ebbing, but she continued: “The tears you have cried over people, over relationships; tears for others wanting them to feel significant, wanting them to know God more- those tears water the seed that you have sown. God thanks you for being faithful. You will sow a harvest because of your faithfulness.” My pulse quickened. How did she know that most of my tears had been shed, not for myself, but for others? She hadn’t seen all those nights in my room, stifling the sobs over those I love who refuse to experience Christ. But He had. My eyes widened, and I listened to her with a replenished fervor. She had proven her credibility; it was the Holy Spirit making His presence known to me.
She randomly threw in Scripture, but when I checked later, it was not random. “Psalm 126. God thanks you for your faith. For your passion. For being the woman in Proverbs 31. You’ll fulfill her. Psalm 27:4 says, ‘This I ask of the Lord, that I may dwell in his house forever,’ and it is your heart, Ashley. Your Father thanks you and is proud of you for showing Him through your love for others. Your harvest will be great. Psalm 126. Thank you for being faithful.”
Warm tears ran down my face gently, and my Sister and I hugged. She walked me over to one of the all-knowing tissue boxes. When I walked back to the group, though, I lost the little composure that I had maintained. I collapsed in my friend’s arms and cried out in gratefulness. I’ve always had dreams of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had always dreamt about how my life would be. But those dreams and those desires changed with my age. Yet there was one dream that stayed solid from day one: I have wanted nothing else than to be faithful to God for the rest of my life. To be that woman of God, the Proverbs 31 woman. I cried because He, in his omniscience, thanked me for the woman I will be; the godly, faithful, strong woman I’ve always wanted to be. And not only that, but He promised that I will have a harvest of my own. I will lead people to Christ! I will lead people to an eternity of everlasting Life! I never asked God for that. Sobs of joy escaped from my chest. I will never be the same because of that moment. I will be bold knowing that there is nothing that will come between my relationship with my God. I am His.
We stood to sing one more song: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. With all creation I sing praise to the King of Kings. You are my everything. And I will adore you.