One of the family projects that our family maintained in years past is the garden. Naturally our children would join in different aspects in gardening from helping to prepare the soil, weeding, and watering. While they would once in awhile mildly object to the tedious nature of gardening, they enjoyed those moments when they first saw the green of budding sprouts emerging from the soil. And we would look forward to the experience of seeing those sprouts come to full maturity, finally reaching the point when their fruits are ripe for picking.
On one occasion, we were planting corn, with our expectations of our children’s success in keeping with the age and ability of each of them. Under their mother’s supervision, they soon had three rows of evenly dispersed corn seeds along each furrow.
But as the fourth row was being planted, with my wife taking more direct involvement in it, our enthusiastic daughter (very young at the time) took the stick for making places for the seeds, and very passionately and liberally dotted the furrow with extra holes, dropping extra kernels in most of them (more or less all behind her mother’s back who had temporarily become preoccupied with other aspects of the garden). When I came along and looked at how things were going, my wife laughed and said, “I have no idea where the seeds have actually been planted in her row.” Together we counted about four or five times as many seed holes as the other furrows possessed.
Our daughter, wearing soil on her clothes and in her hair as proudly as if it were a badge of honor, stood by the garden beaming proudly as if she had just sown the whole thing herself. Her mother and I looked helplessly at each other, shrugged our shoulders, and then congratulated her on her hard work. In time, we had quite a row of corn, not just of stalks, but of clumps of stalks. The harvest from that row was quite an interesting experience!
Our garden adventures (or misadventures as the case sometimes was) sometimes reminded me of things that Jesus taught. The Lord often compared the workings of the Kingdom of God to the workings of a garden. In John 4:34-38 Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him Who sent Me and to accomplish His work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
As I watched our little girl “running amuck” with the seed, I saw someone who was sowing literal seed as we ought to sow the seed of the Word of God. Naturally, the preparing of the “soil” of hearts is chiefly done through the cultivation we invest in relationships that God affords us in our families, co-workers, neighbors, and every other “life-on-life” engagement we have with others. Love, courage, and integrity are powerful farming tools that break up even the hardest of hearts. And as we “till the soil”, we sow the words of God as we go, pointing out His holy attributes, His will for living life, and His promises for those who will trust Him with their hearts as they repent of sin and allow Him to be Lord of their lives.
In time, our daughter did indeed have a measure of success in her labors in the garden as those stalks sprang up and produced fruit. In a much more profound and important way, when we liberally and generously sow the seed of God’s Word, we may not know which seeds will ultimately bring a harvest, but we do know that some of those sprouts will come to full maturity, finally reaching the point when their fruits are also ripe for picking.
When they do, those who have sown and those who have reaped will together rejoice just as God Himself rejoices in the harvest. It’s a hard, hard thing though… the waiting. I was very impatient at times with the apparently slow rate at which things would grow in our little garden. How much more so were our children. But their mother patiently reminded them that things worth having are things worth waiting and working for. So we continued to wait and work among our little plants, weeding and watering, pruning and tending as needed.
The golden fruit of faith is far harder to wait on and work for than are the fruits of the garden. But it is worth so much more than the reddest and juiciest of tomatoes, the largest and coolest of cucumbers, and biggest and sweetest of apples!
In the fields that surround your life, are you tending the soil of others’ lives through the relationships with which God has entrusted you? Do you grip the “garden tools” of love, integrity, and courage as you live life, trusting God to use you to spread the seed of His Word in the hearts of others around you? Consider how barren things would be if there were no seed sown. Think of the famine in the land for a lack of knowledge of God’s love if you and I were faithless in our Lord’s fields?
If things seem dark and hopeless to you and the times are troubling, take heart in knowing that God is yet Lord and is still at work. He continues to use circumstances to strip people of their confidence in things that cannot eternally save them and create an opportunity for the seed of His Word to be sown into their lives and perhaps result in a harvest of eternal life! His Spirit continues to soften hard hearts and heal wounded souls allowing His grace to come and make new and whole what was once broken and ruined.
Join other Believers in the world today who recognize that they have been sent into this day and age to be messengers of God’s hope! Like Jesus Himself, find your nourishment for daily living in the doing of His will for your life! Are you about your “heavenly Father’s business?” Is His agenda, YOUR agenda? If not, take a good long look at your priorities and prayerfully allow God to reshuffle them for you so that you do not squander your brief stay on earth on things that will not and cannot follow you into eternity.
Make your goal in life to “finish His work” (John 4:34) and just wait and see what God can and will do through you!
Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 21 ½ years. He is the author of The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at [email protected]