Reaping a Harvest
by Eric Elder
I’d like to share an incredible story with you today about something that happened to me just last week.
As I mentioned last week in my “3 Special Announcements,” our computers that run our websites for “The Ranch” crashed the day of Lana’s funeral and it’s taken the past 10 months until we were able to completely rebuild the websites from scratch.
To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if God wanted me to rebuild them. When Lana died, I laid down everything at God’s feet, telling Him I was only going to pick up what He wanted me to pick up again. It was a good time to re-prioritize my life, to see what was important to Him and to me, and to start over again with so many things.
But after a few months of contemplating all of this, I was convinced that I was to keep pressing on with our online ministry.
One of the notes that convinced me came from a Jewish woman who had visited the website several years ago. On May 25, 2010, she wrote:
I was sent to your site by accident, and have been reading the stories, and the one about Capernaum has me confused even more. The more I read, the more questions I have. I’ve never seen Jesus portrayed as this site does. I should tell you that I’m Jewish and I believe in the one true G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
I’ve read some of the stories on your site and have to wonder how they could be true, but I can’t stop reading them either, something just feels right about them. My heritage has ingrained in me that Jesus isn’t for my people. I can’t explain why, but I find some of the stories making me cry and I’m not one that cries easily. It doesn’t make sense. I don’t even know why I’m writing. I’m just really confused. How can this G-d of yours, be the G-d I’ve grown up with? Would Jesus love someone who hasn’t been faithfully reading the Torah for a long time?
I’m sorry, I know this doesn’t make any sense, and I’ve always been told that Jesus doesn’t love Jews. But after reading some of the stories I just don’t know what to believe. Is it possible he might love a Jew?
After corresponding with her a few times over the past three years, I received this note from her on May 4, 2013:
I don’t know if you will remember me or not, but I’m feeling led to tell you what’s happened since we first communicated. I wrote you about 3 years ago, about completely believing in the G-d of my ancestors, but not so sure about the Christians claiming Jesus was the Messiah we’ve longed for all these millennium. Someone had accidentally forwarded me one of your Daily Thoughts. I couldn’t get it out of my head….
In the time that life has moved on for both of us, I’ve learned that I can believe Jesus is the Messiah. He truly is the Son of G-d. I’ve also learned that I don’t have to give up my Jewish heritage or traditions. I can be fully Jewish and a believer. I’ve found a wonderful Messianic Synagogue where I’ve accepted the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ). I’m learning to read the scriptures and see them in a whole new way. I’m amazed how much of the Tanakh is in the New Testament, and how they complement each other.
I was telling a friend at lunch today, when I’m quiet I can hear G-d speaking to my innermost being. I see Him working in my life in ways I could have never imagined. It is the most wonderful thing in the world. I truly believe the email that was sent to me by mistake was Divine appointment and no mistake….
Thank you for your ministry and commitment to the L-rd. You truly have touched lives and made a difference. I’m living proof.
Reading her note made me cry and rejoice at the same time. I wrote her back to tell her that her note, along with several other clear indications from God, had helped me to decide to bring The Ranch website up again. Even if I never wrote another message, or added one more thing to it, I felt it was important to bring everything back online for people to read in the future and have their lives changed, too.
So I began rebuilding The Ranch website from the ground up, going back 15 years to when I first broadcast my first live message over the Internet, from my house in Illinois to a friend’s house in Texas, back in the days before Skype, before Facebook, before Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
When I did my first live webcast, CNN, ABC and FoxNews had all just started doing their first live webcasts, too. The pope started broadcasting his weekly prayers from the Vatican the month before, and Billy Graham started broadcasting his evangelistic crusades the month after.
I just read this week that Google is celebrating their 15th anniversary this month, too, having launched their little startup company to index the web the same month that I launched The Ranch.
I tell you this to say that a lot of life has passed in the past 15 years, and I had a lot of content to convert, restore and bring up to date from those early days 15 years ago. But as I’ve been reading the stories and messages I’ve posted over all these years, and watching the videos from even those earliest days, I’ve found myself crying, touched by the way God spoke through those messages to people back then, and how He could still speak through them to me today.
To my amazement, my old self was able to minister to my new self, because both of my “selves” were simply sharing and receiving words of life from the Word of God.
In those very first broadcasts, which you can now watch online again on our Video Archives page, I shared about keeping your eyes fixed on the goal, and that we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Well, this past year, I’ve been able to start reaping a harvest from all those years of planting. Notes like the one above from the Jewish woman are glimpses. On my 15th anniversary, I posted another video on my website, sharing another glimpse, of several trees that Lana and I have planted over the years, which astoundingly have all begun to produce fruit just this year. And last week, I got to glimpse another harvest of another kind.
For fifteen years, I have been producing content to put on The Ranch website, including books, music and videos. From the beginning, I felt it was important to offer these resources to people around the world on our website, free of cost, so they could access them anytime night or day.
But along the way, I sometimes wonder if I’m shooting myself in the foot financially, paying to put these things online, and paying annual fees to keep the music and messages and videos streaming 24/7/365 days of the year.
But in an effort to expand our reach to as many people as possible, I’ve also started posting our books and music and videos other places online, on places like Pandora and iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Spotify, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook.
About a year and a half ago, some of these services have actually begun to pay me for streaming my content on their sites. On Pandora, for instance, every time someone creates a radio station (by typing in my name) to listen to some of my music, I’m paid .00017 cents per “listen.” It takes a lot of listens to earn a full penny! But over the past year and a half, I’ve been getting checks for $20, $30 or $40 every 3 months, meaning my songs are being played over 70,000 times a month!
I’ve also helped other people record their music and put it on our website over the years. One of these artists is actually doing phenomenal on Pandora now, and is getting a check for over $2,000 every 3 months. Their songs are being played nearly 5 million times a month!
I’ve been thrilled for them, and at the same time, just as happy to get my check for $30 or $40 every three months, too.
But last week, when I opened my email from the company that pays my streaming royalties, there was not just one statement, but two. In the first statement, the statement said I had earned $38 from my songs for the quarter, and I said, “Thank You, Lord.” But when I opened the second statement, it said they were paying me an additional $14,305!
Apparently, every time this other artist was being paid as the performer of their songs, I was supposed to be paid also as their record label, as I had helped them to record their music and publish it online. So the royalty company was catching up and paying me the royalties for all the time that this artist was being paid as well!
It couldn’t have come at a better time, too, as I felt I was being squeezed on every side financially in the past two months. I hadn’t been able to write any messages while I was rebuilding the website, and I hadn’t been able to let anyone know of our financial needs either. At the same time, I felt God was clearly leading me to keep rebuilding the website, keep converting and restoring all of the content, and keep making it available freely to anyone who came to the website, anytime day or night.
The Bible verse that the kids and I have been memorizing the past two weeks happens to be Matthew 6:33, which talks about not worrying about what you will eat or drink or wear, but to seek God first in all things:
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
I just kept putting that verse at the forefront of my mind, and kept rebuilding the website. As I was putting some of the final touches on the website on Thursday that’s when the surprise email came, and the check was deposited in our bank account by the next morning. It was enough to bring all of our accounts up-to-date and current, so we could start this new season of ministry fresh and clear.
I just wanted to share this incredible story with you as encouragement to you to keep planting. Keep watering. Keep investing in people and projects and activities that bring glory to God. As the Bible says:
“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).
I wish Lana were here to see the blessings of what we’re reaping right now, in terms of people’s lives redeemed, of fruit trees bearing fruit, of music being played before millions, and even a return on those investments coming back to us so we can keep doing more of the same in the days ahead.
But I have no doubt she’s seeing, enjoying, and perhaps even playing a significant role from her new home in heaven, bringing part of heaven to earth as we go along.
Thank You, Lord, even out of tragedy, You’re able to bring fruit that lasts. And thank you, friends, for continuing to pray for us, believe in us, encourage us and minister to us so we can keep ministering to others.
We truly appreciate it, and we’re truly looking forward to this next season of planting and harvesting, as long as the Lord allows.
With much love,
As a thank-you for your donation of any size to our ministry, we’d be glad to send you our DVD, “To Lana, With Love,” featuring the Celebration of the Life of Lana Elder, who passed away on November 15th, 2012. Lana was the wife of Eric Elder and co-founder of The Ranch. “To Lana, With Love” also includes the short inspirational video, “Eric’s Hope,” to give hope and encouragement to others facing loss.
Click here to learn more or to make a donation.