Grass growing . . . one of the most challenging homeowner projects here in North Carolina. Every fall the soil must be prepared ahead of time: Dead grass, rocks, and other debris need to be raked across, scooped up, and thrown away. Then, the hard clay soil has to be softened with water and aerated. This creates deep pockets for the abundance of tossed seed to drop into the freshly plugged moist earth. Next, fertilizer must be spread over the ready blanket of land.
Once all the exhausting human prep work is done, then it’s up to God’s sunshine and rain to do the rest! (Well, when it does not rain naturally, it’s a lot of rotating sprinklers around the yard to make sure the seeds get the proper moisture they need to grow, but you get the point.)
Then we wait, and wait, and wait, and wait. Patience can be a difficult fruit to practice. Sometimes we get nervous when we do not see any immediate visible results. Because so much work went into this . . . planning, money, time, sweat, blisters. Hopeful expectations of something new.
Seems like forever before that first green baby blade of grass pokes its way through the surface of the earth. But then slowly, over time, multiple blades push through the soil--and then all of those single stems of grass eventually form new thicker and fuller patches of grass.
The transformation from seed to stem takes time. We never actually sit down and watch this growth take place. Most of the development occurs underground. And even if we had a view beneath the soil, the rate at which the seed sprouts and matures is not a timeline that people would sit and stare at.
For so long we gaze over blank brown spots on the ground, and then out of nowhere . . . green! From a period of dormancy to developed. How and when does this happen? This process is a good reminder of the way God’s Word can grow in the lives of others. The Gospel of Mark communicates this to us in “The Parable of Growing Seed.”
“Then Jesus said, ‘God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time!’ ” (Mark 4:26-29 MSG)
For the past two years (and especially these past two months) I feel as though I have been tossing handfuls of seed--hoping and praying that the Word of God will stick and take root in the hearts of others.
Many times, it seems as though my seeding efforts are without produce. Because when growth does not occur immediately, and I cannot see visible green patches of faith progress in the lives that I have sown into, it can be discouraging. However, looking at the wisdom in God’s Word offers hope.
The farmer scattered seed and then continued on. The labor efforts had already taken place, then it was up to God to work the seed into the soil--He opens up the Word in individual hearts.
Look in the parable how the crop grew without the farmer’s knowledge or intervention. This means that God can accomplish His purposes, even when we are unaware of how/when it happens. Growth in others does not depend on our continuous interactions, but rather the action of our Creator.
Once we have faithfully toiled and sown the seed of God’s Word, pray for the harvest to ripen . . . because at that point, growth depends on the sun (Jesus--Son of God) and the rain (Jesus--living water).
We have been entrusted with seed to spread, but we do not have to take on the pressure of growing the seed--only God can create life. While the farmer is sleeping at night or going about other business throughout the day, the Holy Spirit is still at work. Just keep planting and praying. Do your assigned part and leave the results to the Lord!
If you have ever been discouraged by seemingly fruitless efforts with spreading seed, find peace in knowing that hidden germination takes place beneath the surface. Over time, we may even get a glimpse of green where we planted.
We sow--God grows!