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The joyful anticipation of the beginning of summer break became tainted with disappointment as we walked home from school that day. My fifth grade son, his friend, and I sauntered down the sidewalk in conversation as the warm breeze brushed over our bodies; a reminder of God’s never-ceasing hand at work.

Our journey came on the heels of the fifth grade awards assembly. You know the drill: outstanding students in academics, athletics and extracurricular activity are recognized before an assembly of teachers, staff, students and parents. My son and his friend did not receive any. Both are smart, kind kids. But they did not fit the criteria for the awards. They understood that. However, a dissonance remained.

“Why didn’t the volunteers for Circle of Friends get any rewards?”

Little did they understand the depth of the question.

Circle of Friends is the name of the group  in which they both participated. Its focus is on engaging students from the mainstream classrooms with students with special needs. Normally these particular students are not integrated into the regular classrooms due to the severity of their disabilities. The group offers a community in which all learn from each other. My son and his friend volunteered for it. My son’s eyes lit up when he shared about his experiences building snowmen, going to McDonald’s for Shamrock shakes, and enjoying parties together.

During the assembly, almost every type of extracurricular activity was recognized, except this one. Which seemed paradoxical in a sense, given the philosophy behind the group.

But here’s the rub: we don’t “do good” for the recognition.

Wrapping our heads around that reality? Well, that becomes a challenge. Especially when our hearts depend on Earthly motivation to reach out our hands.

Sometimes, the blessings appear invisible. We may not see the immediate “return” on our investment.

Serving a meal at a shelter? May not yield one thank you.

Sacrificing snacks and beverages  to the needy neighbor kid who practically lives at your house? May not immediately result in a verbal recognition of your actions

Embracing a person in a vulnerable season of life? May not guarantee their back doesn’t turn away from you at some point.

Extending an olive branch to the person with whom you butt heads in church? May not resolve the conflict instantly.

So while I understood the disappointment tugging at the hearts of my two tween companions that day, I held a greater truth in my heart—one that can only be learned through experience.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

The truth is this: sometimes we are witnesses to the harvests of our own sowing but sometimes we are privy to  the harvests sowed by others.

The harvests visually remind us of the obedience of its workers; workers who may not be aware of the abundance of the harvest’s yield. When it emerges, it may not even be in our lifetime or in our vicinity.

Ann Voskamp writes, “Believe it: Every tremor of kindness might erupt in a miracle on the other side of the world.”

So keep on keepin’ on. When recognition fails. When fatigue sets in. When results appear far-reaching. A harvest awaits . . . 

Originally published on the author’s blog 

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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Stephanie Thompson

Stephanie is a an ordained pastor, speaker, writer and mental health advocate. She writes about sensing the voice of God and encountering the Holy Spirit in the midst of our everyday routines. In addition, the theme of  mental illness finds itself woven into some of her posts. Her pieces have appeared on multiple sites. She is also a writer for the Redbud Guild. Stephanie lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and three teens. She blogs at http://stephaniejthompson.com/ and can be followed on Twitter @s2thomp and facebook.

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