Have you ever had a garden? I have attempted to have a small garden several times over the past several years and my harvest is usually pretty pitiful. Last year I managed to grow a few radishes and some okra, but over all the harvest was small. There are many reasons why the harvest has been pitiful. A few of those reasons are due to the soil. It is not as healthy as it should be and appears to be lacking nutrients. Some summers there has not been enough water for the plants to survive on hot days. Other times my garden has failed simply from neglect. I become occupied with caring for the children or my own health and I simply don’t do the work that needs to be done to keep the plants producing.
Have you considered what a harvest of 30, 60 or even 100 times would look like? What an amazing abundance! Maybe my garden will produce enough vegetables for me to store some away for the coming winter, but I don’t expect to receive a harvest like Jesus talks about in Matthew 13.
This week we have been reading through Matthew chapters 11-15. These chapters contain a ton of really powerful teaching from Jesus. At times while we are working through our Blogging Through the Bible series I have wanted to slow down and focus on less than the whole chapter. This week has been a week like that. These chapters are filled with the teachings of our Savior and I want to learn as much as I can as we work through them.
This week there was something else that I heard on a radio program that put these verses into a different perspective for me. It opened my eyes in ways that I don’t always want them to be opened. Who wants to see the pain and suffering that is happening in our world today. Our culture has gotten quite skilled at shutting out the things that cause pain or discomfort to our lives. But maybe we need to be uncomfortable.
Tuesday this week I was going about my day a little differently than normal. My children were with my parents for the day and I had a bit more quiet than I am used to. This gave me the opportunity to listen to some radio programs that I am not usually able to enjoy. On my drive back to the house I listened to Focus On the Family’s Daily broadcast. The show that day was an interview with Naghmeh Abedini whose husband is currently serving an 8 year prison sentence for sharing his faith in Iran. I was brought to tears as I listened to her story. [To listen to the complete broadcast please click here.]
Naghmeh spoke quietly, calmly yet powerfully as she told how she came to know Jesus as her savior while living in a Muslim home. I was astounded by her courage. Her life demonstrates the seeds falling on the good soil. She has not always had an easy life as a believer in Jesus. Instead her life is a beautiful reflection of Jesus in ways not often seen.
During the interview she was asked a question about the idea of nominal christians in Iran and she answered,
“–no, you can’t be lukewarm. I actually remember when Saeed and I were dating or courting, Saeed said, “Do you realize you might be a widow? Do you realize you might die?” And it’s just something as Christians you talk about, just as like there’s a cost associated with following Christ. Are you in or are you out? If you’re in, then you’re in and that’s how the believers are in the Middle East. If you’re in, you’re in till you die and you don’t go back. And so, there’s no mediocre—” Naghmeh Abedini
Through the rest of the interview Naghmeh tells more about her husband and the things he is suffering through as he lives in an Iranian prison right now. This past week she posted on Twitter pictures of her son’s birthday. Another birthday that he must celebrate without his father, because his father has a passion to share the gospel with those in his home country.
Happy birthday to my sweet boy. Praying this will be the last birthday without daddy! pic.twitter.com/1ajUQjFXQQ
— Naghmeh Abedini (@NaghmehAbedini) March 18, 2015
Wednesday morning as I was reading through Matthew chapter 13, I was thinking about the radio interview I had heard, and there were more words from Naghmeh that kept ringing in my ears.
“He’s been beaten and tortured. The first few months they told him, “You’ve corrupted a whole generation of young people and no matter what we do, they won’t turn back to Islam.” Naghmeh Abedini
— Naghmeh Abedini (@NaghmehAbedini) March 7, 2015
“The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” Matthew 13:23
“Corrupted a whole generation of young people and no matter what we do they won’t turn back.”
What a harvest. What a beautiful harvest! A precious harvest that has been very costly. Especially costly for Naghmeh and Saeed Abedini. Even in the face of such suffering there is still the hope and the trust:
— Focus on the Family (@FocusFamily) March 17, 2015
Naghmeh and Saeed Abedini are such shining examples for what Christ is teaching us to be. Jesus is not calling us to a life that is easy. Jesus is not calling us to a life of ease and comfort. Jesus is calling us to share the Good News with a world that is dying.
I pray that my eyes will no longer be closed because of the fear of pain. I pray that I will be willing to walk the path that Jesus is calling me to regardless of the cost. All over the world there are Christians who are suffering and dying because they are standing up for their faith and for the name of Jesus Christ. I pray that I will be All IN!
Please be praying for Naghmeh and Saeed Abedini. Naghmeh is continuing to speak out and seeking the release of her husband, while she is living the life of a single mother for her children. Pray also for the people of Iran. There are Christians that are still in Iran, who are facing persecution each day.