July 15, 2012

Pentecost - Scatter Seed

Jesus starts out the Parable of the Growing Seed by saying, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground…” Mark 4:26. Farming is not a familiar occupation any more. A century ago, and certainly in Jesus time, this image would be easy to relate to. Now, the closest many of us get is picking up fresh produce. Even if you pick up a seedling plant or two for your home garden, someone else planted the seed. So we can too easily forget that all growing things start with a seed of some size.
Some seeds are ‘picky’ about the soil and moisture they require. Others will grow just about anywhere. Weeds seem to appear everywhere you do not want them. In desert regions the germination of plants is astonishing after a nice rain. It seems almost overnight and the yard is covered with greenery where before there was just brown sand.
There are steps to making a successful garden or farm. First you have to prepare the soil so that it is a better home for the seeds to grow in. That might mean adding more compost or breaking up clay soil with the addition of some looser dirt. It will certainly mean that you will have to dig and turn the soil either with a shovel or a plow to soften it and awaken it.
Then you make furrows or scatter the seed on the prepared soil, depending on what is needed. Seeds have to be covered with dirt, too. You cannot just leave them lying on the surface of the ground. Tiny seeds don’t require much dirt over them, but bigger seeds like corn need to be buried deeper.
Water is necessary for germination, but too much watering will wash out the seeds or prevent them from sprouting. It’s all part of the careful nurturing process for growth.
The last step is the hardest-you wait for the first sign that something is growing. You wait and you check the ground daily for any little crack in the soil that might indicate a seedling coming through. If you get too impatient and dig up the seed, though, you will probably kill it.

Do you remember as a child planting grass seed in a cup and waiting impatiently for it to grow? Or maybe you did a science experiment where you put a bean in a clear cup, with cotton to hold it in place and watched the little stringy root emerge and then eventually the tiny baby leaves. It was fascinating to watch the growth occur, but hard to wait for it to happen!
Back to our parable-how does the process of planting seeds relate to our ministries? Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground…” so there must be a relationship.
Planting seeds is a simple process, in itself. The difficulty is in the patience needed while waiting for the sprouts and growth. Ministry is similar and there are similar steps to growing new ministry.
For effective ministry, we prepare the ‘soil’. The soil of ministry starts in our own hearts. In this blog, we’ve looked at some ways to prepare the soil of our hearts. There is giving joyful thanks, worship, and even abandoning our will to God’s. All this prepares our hearts to be fertile and available to the seed of ministry God plants there. Sometimes the preparation of our heart can feel like we are being dug up and turned over like the gardener does with the soil in the garden.
After the ‘soil’ of our heart is ready, God plants the seed of an idea of ministry. A vision of your calling comes to you. It may be a grand plan like studying for ordination or preparing to go into the mission field. It could be just a simple idea of sending cards to shut-ins or taking up a collection for a shelter. Whatever it is, God has planted that seed in your heart.
Then we have to tend the seed while it grows. There is always the temptation to leap into action when you have a vision. You might want to pack for Africa immediately or rush out and start getting donations. However, your seed-your vision needs some tending. You probably need to find out a bit more about what living into that calling will entail. It might be learning what you need to take on a mission trip or visiting the shelter to find out what they really need. You might even need to take some classes.
If your calling and vision of ministry is from God, you will discover that God has been preparing you for this growth and work for a long time. You will probably discover that you have many of the gifts and much of the information needed for the ministry.

Take time to evaluate where you are in the growth process in your call. It might be time to cultivate the soil a bit or maybe it is time to water and tend the seeds until they sprout and you can begin to sense what kind of ‘plant’ you are growing. Be patient and remember My grace is sufficient for you, for power* is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Remember you cannot hurry the growth of a seedling, nor can you hurry the life-cycle of a ministry. Jesus says the farmer, “would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how.” We’ll look at that next time.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this blog post that I came across by searching the web on how to plant a seed .... I'm torn on what I need to do and asking the Holy Spirit to guide me ....