July 29, 2012

The Earth Produces


Growing a garden or a ministry takes preparation, planting, and persistence. And you have to leave the seed alone to grow. Over thinking and over cultivating and even over watering can slow down or even ruin growth in a garden and in a ministry. Gradually though, “The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head.” (Mark 4:28)
It is hard to wait for the ‘stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head’ that Jesus talks about in the Parable of the Growing Seed. Like the photo of my grandson, we spend a lot of time looking ta the dirt but we don’t see anything going on. However, things are happening below ground long before the “green blade rises from the buried grain” as the Easter hymn by John Crum says.
Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many years has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.


In the grave they laid Him, Love Whom we had slain,
Thinking that He’d never wake to life again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.


Up He sprang at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain;
Up from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.


When our hearts are saddened, grieving or in pain,
By Your touch You call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.


It is the same with ministry. Nothing seems to be happening at first despite your best efforts. So we start making adjustments and changing plans and working extra hard to try and force growth. I think the second line is especially interesting. It says “wheat that in the dark earth many years has lain” and it is true that sometimes it seems like whatever ministry you are working on has been in the ground for years with nothing happening.
Interestingly, grain and other seeds can survive for centuries under the right conditions and still germinate. Archeologists have found caches of grain that has actually sprouted when planted! New growth springs up from seemingly desolate areas. This photo of little plants coming up through the blackened earth of a recently extinguished wildfire (Waldo Canyon Fire in NM) is so symbolic of the hope that we can find in God that I had to share it!
The same thing can occur in ministry. There are times when a favorite ministry can go ‘fallow’ and then a few years later spring back to life. We should take heart, even when our cherished ministry seems to have failed, there can still be life below ground, just waiting for the right time to spring up again.  
Deep rooted ministry takes time and patience. ‘Digging’ it up to examine it and replant can be detrimental. Letting God work is important and necessary. Ministry growth, like plant growth can be slow. Just when you are ready to give up-there’s a sprout! The little spout turns into a stalk and then the beginnings of a head of grain and then a full head! That is when we know that in the ministry and more importantly in “our hearts that dead and bare have been: Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.”

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