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Topic: Labor (04/19/04)
TITLE: You Also Go Into the Vineyard
By sandra snider
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It was Sunday afternoon and the telephone answering system was blinking with three messages. I pressed the play button. “I want to talk to you, Steve. Call me.” Click. “If you don’t want to talk to me, Steve, then just tell me straight up.” Click. “I’m dialing 555-0095. I want to talk to you, Steve.” Click.
When the phone rang again I picked it up, unaware that The Lord of the Harvest was about to dispatch unsuspecting me as a laborer into an unfamiliar and unasked for field.
I was about to experience firsthand the truth stated by Jesus in John 4:38: “Others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”
It was the same agitated caller and he wanted to talk with Steve. I explained to him that he was dialing the wrong number and that Steve didn’t live here. “Oh please forgive me, ma’am,” he said. “I’m really sorry. I won’t bother you again. I guess I made a mistake.”
I then said something unusual to a complete stranger. “That’s all right. Our mistakes are covered by the blood of the Lamb.” What prompted me to say THAT, I immediately thought!
I heard the caller catch his breath. There was a long, stunned silence before he responded to the truth that was obviously ringing in his ears. “I can’t believe you just said that to me,” he said. “You see, I’m really struggling right now. I drink a lot. Steve is a Christian friend of mine. I think I’m on the right path, but I’m not a Christian.”
The caller said his name was Jack and he began asking many questions about God and the Scriptures. As our conversation continued it became apparent that I was speaking with a spiritually weary soul, yet each time I began to answer a question and tried to declare the Word of the Lord for his situation he would change the subject and attempt to take me down another rabbit trail. I began to grow tired of Jack’s verbal games and argumentative stance.
“You also go into the vineyard,” I heard Jesus say to me, yet how would God have me respond to Jack? I prayed that I would have the mind of Christ. A simple statement of fact then flew out of my mouth that caught both of us by surprise. “God wants you to put that drink down, Jack.” I heard another hesitation and then, “I do have a beer in my hand,” he slowly confessed.
I had arrived as a new and fresh laborer in this field white for harvest. To Jack, I had no face, no name, and no denomination. Jack and I carried no history with each other, and so, with the luxury and freedom of this realization, I continued to gently but firmly speak strong and clear words of Biblical exhortation.
“The enemy of your soul has a stronghold in your life, Jack,” I said. “God tells you that if you draw near to Him, He will then draw near to you. You need to agree with God that your drinking is affecting your relationship with Him.”
I sensed that Jack was becoming more unsettled with each passing minute. A misdialed telephone number had left him stripped and naked before the surgical precision of biblical truth. Hebrews 4:12-13 tells us that the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, that it pierces and divides soul and spirit and discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. The spiritual discomfort Jack was experiencing from hearing God’s Word proclaimed was probably making him uncomfortable because he hurriedly brought the conversation to a halt and hung up.
My physical ear heard silence on the telephone wire but my spiritual ear heard the whisper of 1 Corinthians 3:6 which told me that I had just watered what an unknown brother in Christ had planted. I thought of the words from a song we sing in church: “And these are the days of the harvest. The fields are white in the world. And we are Your laborers in Your vineyard, declaring the Word of the Lord.” I decided to dial the number Jack had tried unsuccessfully to call, and Steve answered.
Steve told me that he had a long history with Jack. He had befriended him, given him a Bible and brought him to church. Another Christian had mentored the 52-year old. Other brothers and sisters in the Lord had been sowing seeds of truth into Jack’s life for over two years. Believers whom I had never met had been steadfast, unmovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord. These were the saints who had borne the burden and the heat of the day.
On that Sunday afternoon God reminded two fellow laborers that he who plants and he who waters are one. “You spoke truth to Jack in a way that I don’t think I ever could,” Steve said. “Perhaps this is exactly what he needed to hear.”
Proverbs 16:1 says that we can make our plans but it is God who ordains the final outcome. Jack had meant to dial a five but God’s finger dialed an eight. Jack was anticipating a conversation with his friend Steve but God had scheduled a divine appointment. Steve planted, I watered, but it was God who gave the increase.