At 18 years of age, Jane Lucretia D’Esterre was a talented and beautiful young woman, entering the prime of her life. As she stood on the bank of a glistening, dark lake in Scotland, she pondered plunging into the depths, taking her life. She had lost all hope.
Her husband, John, had just been killed in a duel
The year was 1815, and her husband, John, had just been killed in a duel. He left her penniless, alone in a new country with two babies to care for. Her family lived in France, so she was without support of any kind: emotional, spiritual or financial.
As she gazed into the rippling waters of the lake and reflected on the pain and brokenness of her life, she looked up and spotted a young man on the other side of the lake, plowing furrows on the hillside. He was completely focused on his work, not aware of her eyes upon him as he guided the plow behind the horse with a single-minded purpose.
They had lost one parent already
In her moment of despair, she was so impressed with the young plowman’s focus and concentration to do his work well that his well-timed example pulled her out of her own nightmare. Suddenly, she was infused with hope, receiving a timely dose of wisdom. She knew what she was supposed to do–move straight ahead as the young plowman, as she, too, had a meaningful task to fulfill. Her children needed her. They had lost one parent already and did not need to experience the agonizing loss of another.
When she processed the young man’s focus and commitment, she was given wisdom. Or to put it another way, she was given a wise heart. When her heart became wise, it then became brave to do the right thing, which was also the hardest thing to do.
A few weeks after this experience at the lake, Jane came to faith in Christ. Years later, she married Captain John Grattan Guinness, the youngest son of the famous brewer Arthur Guinness.
The prominent author Os Guinness, great-great-grandson of D’Esterre, made this observation:
“If it had not been for the plowman, the tragedy of the dueling husband would have been followed by the tragedy of the duelist’s widow…My great-great-grandmother was unusual for several reasons including the fact that she conscientiously prayed for her descendants down through a dozen generations. Ours is a heritage of faith, which I, for one, am extremely grateful.”
When D’Esterre had been a teenager gazing into the deep, dark abyss of the lake, imagining her death, she could not see five generations ahead or any other descendants. All she could feel was that her life was finished. But, it wasn’t finished. By looking at a purposeful young man plowing on a hill, she realized there was hope. She could take the path of the lake or she could take the path of moving ahead, in spite of her mind-numbing, emotional pain.
She realized there was hope
D’Esterre had no idea what the future held nor could she imagine she would ever have another husband who would deeply love her and her children. All she knew at that moment was that she could choose death or life. She had a choice to make that would impact not only her life, her children’s lives, but even the lives of her descendants.
Rarely do we fully realize the significance of the decisions and choices we make. They always bring consequences into our lives. It is your choices and decisions that determine the ultimate outcome of your life.
Several years ago, my wife went through a year-long course taught by a fine, well-respected counselor in our city. The purpose was to equip participants with skills needed to help people find healing from the painful struggles of life. The foundation of her lessons and their understanding of people’s problems was built on a principle found in one of the letters of the Apostle Paul. In Galatians 6:7, Paul says: “Do not be deceived, God will not be mocked, whatever a man sows, this he shall also reap.”
Paul uses an illustration from the physical world of agriculture. There are certain objective principles at work in this model, and you have to adapt to them. For instance, if you plant pumpkin seeds, you get pumpkins. If you plant watermelon seeds, you get watermelons. This is the way agriculture works.
This is also true in the spiritual, moral order. Yet, many are blind to this, believing they can live any way they would like without facing the consequences. You cannot just make up the rules for life on the fly. Eventually, there will be grave consequences, as you are out of touch with reality.
You cannot sow pumpkin seeds and get watermelons. You cannot sow foolishly and expect an exceptional life. God makes it clear: “I will not be mocked!” If you sow pumpkin seeds, you are going to get pumpkins. If you sow nothing, you will get nothing. If you sow foolishly, you will reap a life that is impoverished and mediocre.
Notice that Paul also says, “whatever you sow.” It is all inclusive. The law of sowing and reaping is functioning in every area of your life including your finances, morals, relationships, physical health, intellect and spiritual life.
Lives begin to implode
This law is operating in your life regardless of your intentions, regardless of how well you understand it, or regardless of whether or not you believe it is true.The pain and sorrow we often experience is because we break the fabric of God’s design and consequently reap what we sow.
Psychologist Chris Thurman wrote an excellent book, The Lies People Believe. In the book, he asks:
“Have you ever noticed how prominent sport stars’, businessmen, politicians’, and even ministers’ lives implode because of scandal and moral failure? In retrospect, in almost every case, we can clearly see the seeds of their downfall sown along the way.”
He says they usually begin with a small, seemingly innocuous action here and a careless behavior there. Thurman continues to say that you see:
“Small seeds of moral carelessness sown along life’s path that eventually grow into weeds of destruction.”
So, I leave you with two questions:
- “Is there any area in your life where there is a slow erosion or deterioration that is taking place? Most people do not realize that the corruption of our soul happens slowly and imperceptibly over time.”
- “Unless your life is flourishing in all areas, are you willing to sow in a different direction, knowing that every decision and every choice you make will eventually come back to you?”
God is quite clear on this. He will not be mocked. We will, in fact, reap what we sow.