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Great loss, great harvest

A monthly column for the church by the General Assembly stated clerk

April 8, 2009

LOUISVILLE

It is my good fortune to teach an adult Sunday school class once a month.

A couple of weeks ago, we were discussing Ezekiel 36. I shared an essay by Carlyle Marney entitled “Years of the Locust” (from Beggars in Velvet, Abingdon Press, 1960). The essay draws a parallel between the seasons of discontent and the account of the swarm of locusts in the Old Testament.

Marney relays an insight he received from a friend who witnessed firsthand how locusts swarm in Africa. When the locusts come, they eat every living plant down to the roots. The farmers and their hired hands will drive the cattle and horses out into the fields in an attempt to crush the locusts before they can lay their eggs. However, despite their efforts, the farmers will yield no harvest that year.

In small or large ways, my hunch is that we all have experienced our own “swarm of locusts,” many of us more recently than not.

We have contributed to our 401(k)s for years, only to see them decline to nothing. We have given a great chunk of our lives to companies, only to receive pink slips in the end. We have faithfully paid our mortgages, only to find the value of our homes slide to basement levels.

At times, it seems our best intentions ― including our spiritual work ― melt before the heat of our ambitions and selfishness.

But Marney offers a hopeful note in his essay. His friend reports that the year following the devastation by the locusts is a time for bountiful crops. The crushed locusts become a rich fertilizer for the soil.

It is using wisely a season of great loss that eventually yields great results.

Sisters and brothers, our Lenten journey will soon end and we will celebrate anew the great resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Lord will once again hear “Alleluia!” from our congregations.

May we use wisely our losses in this season of the locusts and allow the Spirit to build a treasure for us that neither thief nor moth can touch.

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