In the latter part of the 1800’s the mountains around Provence, France, were barren because of de-forestation. Former villages were deserted, because their brooks and springs had run dry, and the wind was very strong, as there was no foliage to provide cover. A man called Jean Giono was mountain climbing, and on one occasion encountered a shepherd, named Elzeard Bouffler, who invited him to spend the night in his shepherd’s hut.
After dinner Giono, watched the shepherd carefully sort through a pile of acorns, discarding the ones that were cracked or undersized. When the shepherd had counted a hundred perfect acorns, he went to bed. Giono learnt that the fifty-five- year old shepherd had been planting trees on the hillsides for over three years. In total, he’d planted 100,000 trees, of which 20,000 had sprouted. Of those, he expected that half would be eaten by rodents, or die, owing to the harshness of the elements, leaving 10,000 alive and growing.
After World War 1, Giono returned to the mountainside, and discovered an incredible rehabilitation. There was a veritable forest, accompanied by a chain reaction in nature. Water flowed in the once empty brooks. The ecology, sheltered by trees and bonded to the earth by a mat of spreading roots, became hospitable. Willows, rush meadows, gardens and flowers were coming alive.
Giono returned again after World War 2. Twenty miles from the lines, the shepherd had continued his work, ignoring the war, and so the reclamation of the land had continued. Whole regions glowed with health and prosperity. On the site of ruins seen in 1913, now stood neat farms. The old streams, fed by the rain and snow, were flowing again. Little by little, villages were being rebuilt, and people were settling there, making the place come alive again.
How long have you been sowing seeds of prayer and seeds of witness in your workplace, or home? Perhaps you’re wondering how many have survived, and how many have sprung into life. Maybe you’re wondering if the task is just too big. After all, how can you make a difference?
But remember the true story of a simple shepherd, faced with seemingly impossible odds, who dared to dream, dared to sow, and to go on sowing. The difference he made was staggering. How much more will be the difference be that you find you’ve made, when you see it all from the perspective of eternity. Please keep sowing!
Prayer: Father God, my prayers and witness for You don’t always seem to make much difference, from my perspective. But I believe that they do, because You’re faithful. Thank You for reminding me that my job is to keep on sowing, and to leave the harvest to You. I’m to trust You that lives will be changed, and that the impact of those changed lives will go far beyond what I can imagine, affecting whole generations. Give me Your strength to carry on. Amen.
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