20I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Today I was privileged to preach the home going service of one of the elderly members of our congregation. The above text was the basis for her eulogy. She was a woman of character and faith. She was not a woman of fame or fortune, but she was like sod... as a result of her deep roots of faith, hope, love and wisdom, “tender blades” came up through her...
A Roman Catholic Priest, born in the early 1800’s penned the following poem regarding soil. He entitled the poem, “Earth’s Tribute,” and it reads,
(John Bannister Tabb)
(The Service of the Sod)
First the grain, and then the blade—“
The one destroyed, the other made;
Then stalk and blossom, and again
The gold of newly minted grain.
So Life, by Death the reaper cast
To earth, again shall rise at last;
For 't is the service of the sod
To render God the things of God.
For `tis the service of the sod, to render God the things of God.”
Sod or turf is grass and the part of the soil beneath it held together by the roots, or a piece of thin material.
At times I’ve seen homes where the lawn has been stripped and nothing will grow. It is barren. Seeds have been planted, but nothing will grow. Therefore, the home owners purchase sod, that turf or grass that has soil beneath it held together by the roots. The “service of the sod” is to allow its roots to go down into the soil. As a result, new grass grow up above the sod. The sod’s roots go down deeper into the once barren soil and lifts new tender blades until they are strong enough to grow on their own.
It is the service of the sod to allow itself to lay down upon that which is barren so that new tender blades will grow and have a chance to become rich and thick. In life, there are those who, like sod allow themselves to lay down on sometimes barren soil, taking their roots, pushing through the barrenness and birthing new tender blades. They support those blades until they are strong enough to stand on their own.
At times, those in the ministry are like sod. God at times calls us to places that look, feel and taste barren. God at times calls us to lay down our roots, allowing them to go deep into the barren soil. At times God takes the spiritual nutrients He has embedded within us to cultivate the barren ground beneath us. It is the "service of the sod" to die to self, allow our roots to be used by The Lord to nurture, fertilize and rejuvenate that which seems barren, broken, dry and fruitless.
God uses our roots and our growth to produce tender blades that eventually grow up, quite literally through the sod - us.
It can be tough to be sod. It takes time for the tender blades to grow. It takes being watered and tending. It takes going deep. Paul said, “for me to live is Christ, but to die is gain." In other words, if I continue to live life on this side of the Jordan in the flesh, my life is a testimony and through my life, others may come to know Christ. But to die, Paul said, is “gain” for me, because then I can go and rest with my Lord. Our lives are not our own. We do not get to decide the days of our lives. Our times are in God’s hands.
Until that day when The Lord sees fit to call us from labor to reward, we, like sod, may be called to barren places. Sod is only useful when the roots are deep. If you are in a "sod season, " realize that God chose you to render this service because you are cultivated, rich and strong through Him. You have depth of root that maybe you cannot even see. God has some tender blades He wants to raise through that which He has already placed within you.
"Tis the service of the sod to render God the things of God."
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Until next Wednesday,
In a Faith, Hope and Perseverance,