To Discouraged Workers
It is surely a blessed joy which fills the heart of the Christian worker when he is permitted to reap the seeds of his own sowing, and to see the results of his own labor. And often this joy is given on earth. And yet it is impossible to know all the results of Christian effort, or to follow out all the blessed influences which radiate from an earnest, active church or Sabbath-school, or from an earnest, active devout life.
In some kinds of work, we can see everything that is done. All the results stand out visible to the eye. When the sculptor works upon his block of marble, every stroke leaves its visible impression. When the artist works upon his canvas, every touch leaves its trace. When the builder toils upon the walls, every brick or stone raises them a little higher. When the author writes his book, every movement of his pen leaves its trace upon the paper. When men work on matter which they can see, and the world can see — then what is accomplished!
But it is not so in spiritual things. The results are not always apparent. Sometimes, it is true, they are so marked that all the world can see them — as when a wicked man is reformed by the power of the gospel; or, as when one outside the fold of Christ comes in at the door, and sits down with God's people.
And yet, in most cases, what can be seen or known, now and here — is but a small part of what is done. The number of conversions or accessions to the church is not the measure of the results of teaching and preaching. God's Word gives out thousands of strengthening, comforting, sanctifying, upbearing influences; and these are silent and unseen — yet mighty and powerful.
Then there are many seeds sown, especially in the children's hearts, which seem to be lost, but which, many years after, when the sower sleeps in death — will spring up into living fruitfulness and beauty. Perhaps in Heaven we shall see that the best influences of our lives have been their unconscious influences; and the most fruitful efforts have been those we considered labor in vain. Teach God's truth patiently, hopefully, confidently — for God has said, "It shall not return unto Me void."