And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? (31) It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: (32) But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it. (Mark 4:30-32)
I plant seeds in my garden, expecting them to become so much more than they appear to be. Rolling them around in my palm, they don’t look like much, and, in fact, are easy to lose hold of. The wind or a sudden movement sometimes tosses one onto the ground amongst other tiny particles where it’s gone forever. But if I can just hang on long enough to place it where I want it to grow, I will, one day, reap abundant things.
|My grandfather on his tractor.|
There’s a process to planting. My grandfather was a farmer, and long before he dropped the seed in the ground, he prepared the soil to receive it. He had to take into account the land’s ability to retain moisture. In low spots, he’d make great hills and plant the seeds on top. He also had to consider the type of seed. Was he planting tomatoes or green beans or corn? Different seeds will have different requirements. You can plant beans close together, but corn needs space. Knowledge was involved.
He had to know how deep to plant the seed. Most of my flower seeds only need to be barely covered. I’ll dust them with soil and think to myself how flimsy it seems. Birds, rain, any number of things can disturb the seed before it has a chance to do anything. My front flowerbeds are partially beneath the eaves of my house and when it rains, water will pour off the roof and create ruts. I know not to plant seeds there because they will be washed away.
In the spring, when the sun starts to warm the earth in my part of Florida, we’ll find flowers sprouting in the lawn from last year’s plants. Black-eyed Susans pop up between Bahia grass and lawn weeds, oblivious to the fact they shouldn’t be there and might get mowed. Go out further and there are tiny orchids, a natural plant that sits hidden all year, only to appear in full force in April. Our footsteps, the scurry of other creatures, did nothing to keep them from sprouting.
|My gladiolus garden|
That’s the thing about seeds; they can’t NOT come up. Unless they are dead. I’ve purchased seed packets online and had none of them sprout before, despite the soil being right, the location being what that plant will need to grow and flourish. The seed itself was too old. That’s discouraging at first, but I never let it stop me from trying again. I plant again. I water. And I wait.
The biggest portion of growing things is in the waiting. On the surface, nothing looks different. I know I put the seed there. I know I’ve watered it, and the sun has done its job. But most of the “becoming” is up to the seed itself. Different plants take different amounts of time to sprout. Zinnias are pretty quick, but Black-eyed Susans will stay beneath the soil for a year sometimes, seeds cast from last year’s plants hiding during the colder months.
Faith says, “I planted the seed. I believe it will sprout.” Faith protects the seeds, fencing the area from foot traffic or pets. Sprouts, when they finally emerge are fragile, their tiny roots holding them upright in the barest amount of soil. They have potential to become something great, but to get there, I must keep tending the garden. Different plants need different types of fertilizer. A citrus tree has different requirements from cabbage plants. Different plants need more or less amounts of water and sunlight.
All of them need patience. Faith alone, my ability to plant the seed, to know what will make it grow to its best, isn’t enough. There’s that waiting again.
We do not want you to become lazy, but to be like those who believe and are patient, and so receive what God has promised. (Hebrews 6:12 GNT)
I learned patience from my dog. I have two dogs, actually, but the young one tests my patience frequently. When I bought her, I thought I knew all there was to know about dogs, yet within a week’s time, I knew I was wrong. She’s difficult. She challenges me to slow down and wait. What has always worked for other puppies I’ve raised doesn’t work for her.
Seasons are like that. Some years, one thing grows better than another. I like the change. And the challenge of seeing what will do best this year. I like the success the most, late summer looking back and feeling accomplishment that my efforts at weeding, at caring for my small flower garden, brought me happiness. After all, that is the goal of whatever we face in life, that whatever the alternating challenges are, God brings it to success – if we’ll believe and stand in faith over the seeds in our hearts. If we’ll cultivate the garden, we’ll have a harvest when the time is right.
For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. (29) But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come. (Mark 4:28-29)
There’s no instant growth. I can buy potted plants, already at a certain height. They still need time to put down roots and establish themselves. They will still require the right amount of water and fertilizer. Weeds will still sprout around them if I don’t take the time to pull them out. But if I do, if I simply obey God’s Word, then that flower I long to see will, one day, be in full bloom.
That’s the way it works. God is faithful to keep His promise, every time. As long as I choose to believe and act and take one more walk around the yard with the dog, patiently waiting, what I’ve planted will become great things, and someone will see the photos and say, “How did you do that?”
Well, let me tell you … I planted a seed.
Suzanne D. Williams