A Remnant by God’s Grace
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means!
I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.
God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah and how he pleads with God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets; they have demolished your altars; I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” But what is the divine reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time, there is a remnant, chosen by grace.
I can’t believe I am going to have my fourth winter in Wisconsin. Time flies so fast. While I enjoy the beautiful nature in this area, I still can’t adapt to the change to the winter season. There were warmer and more beautiful fall days, but frost suddenly threatened to kill my plants at night. Since I brought some Korean vegetables back from Chicago, I should be sure to keep them healthy every year so that I am able to get seeds and plant them next spring. Otherwise, I am unable to keep them every year because most of them are seed crops.
My struggle to adapt to winter season began during my first winter in Wisconsin in 2019. We had snow the first week of October, I was surprised because my plants hadn’t flowered yet. Especially since sesame was not ready for winter, of course, they couldn’t have seeds yet as well. Early snow froze half of them. I took one of them and planted it in a pot and put it inside my house. Finally, I was able to get seeds for the next year.
I shared my story with our parishioners. They gave me wise advise: “Before we have snow, sometimes frost comes and freezes the plants. You have to cover the plants with blankets.” That was a good idea, but I wasn’t sure when I would need to do that. I asked them when was it time to plant and to cover them. With their help, during my second winter, I got the chance to wrap my vegetables with a blanket to protect them from being frozen. Of course, I got seeds in my third year as well. I was so proud of what I did and shared the seeds and plants with my Korean colleagues.
Thankfully I shared this information with my Korean colleagues the first week of September this year, because we had frost in the third week of September. I think one of my parishioners said, “We may have frost tonight. My husband will cover my plants with blankets.” Hearing that, I said, “I should do it as well.” Back home, I took my plants inside my house and thought, ‘I will cover them tomorrow because it is not cold yet,’ because it was too dark to go over to my garden. But, all the vegetables in my garden were gone because they froze overnight. They didn’t wait for me even one night! Yes, I know, the farmer should be diligent. My laziness cost me my sesame plants and I will have no seeds this year.
However, I am not worried about it because I have some remaining seeds from last year. I will still save some seeds for planting in the spring. I reserve the seeds because I heard that ‘the wise farmer saves the seedcorn for next year.’ I am a lazy gardener, but I continue to learn more about gardening every year. I feel like half a gardener.
My experience recalls “an idea of remnant” in the scripture. The Prophet Elijah won over the Baal prophets on Mount Carmel. He encouraged the Israelites and the king to destroy the Baal altars, and kill the four hundred and fifty Baal prophets, showing a victory for God on Mount Carmel. However, after the event happened, he ran away into the wilderness to escape from Jezebel, who was upset with him and wanted to kill him. He was discouraged and disappointed and would die, saying, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too” (1 Kings 19:10). However, God said to him, “Yet, I reserve seven thousand in Israel- all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him” (1 King 19:18). The Prophet Elijah got up and moved forward on God’s Word. His faith came to us.
Today, we also experience disappointment, seeing some people leave the church and some who didn’t come back to the church after the Pandemic hit all over the world. The church seems to be downsizing more and more. We are fearful that we might have to close our church soon. However, the Apostle Paul said that God didn’t give up his people. God, who reserved seven thousand faithful people in the past, still keeps His people, including himself, for His kingdom (Romans 11:1-5). Like half a gardener, I know to keep the seeds for the next year, so how does God not know how to keep His people and His church for His kingdom? Did you know you are the remnant of God for His kingdom? It is your turn to keep your faith. Indeed, God reserved more people who didn’t lose their faith during the Pandemic. God may send them to us for His ministry. Let’s move forward like Elijah and Paul!