“Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal,” John 12:24-25.
Jesus’ audience was primarily fisherman and farmers, mine is little boys. Since we entered the farming world with our little garden, we see His parables springing to life before our eyes. Our time spent outside, be it in the garden, the compost, the lawn...it's all ripe with illustrations to point us to know Him more.
A seed can sit on a shelf 100 years and remain a seed. But, put that same seed into fertile ground, 10 days later life will emerge with potential to be abundant! A believer planting himself in God’s Word and entering into discipleship relationship with Jesus will find himself growing into all he was created to be.
"Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something,” Mth 23:26.
We transplanted Sweet William sprouts last year but figured they died somewhere along the way since we never saw any flowers. Then, to our surprise next spring, a giant patch of thriving Sweet William! While walking through our garden this year, Tad asked “what happens if you plant a garden then move away?” We sow seeds in people’s lives and sometimes we’re blessed enough to see them blossom, sometimes their growth happens when we are long gone. Sometimes others will harvest the seeds we sow. We all grow at different rates.
“If you grow a healthy tree, you’ll pick healthy fruit. If you grow a diseased tree, you’ll pick worm eaten fruit. The fruit tells you about a tree…a good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard,” Mth. 12:33-35.
“Seed scattered on the road: someone hears news of the kingdom and doesn’t take it in, it just remains on the surface, and so the Evil One comes along and plucks it right out of the persons’ heart.”
“Seed cast on the gravel---this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it."
“The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle out what was heard, and nothing comes of it.” (Actual mail delivery to our home one day recently. Message received: Buy all you want for the illusion of completing you, refinance your debt when that doesn’t work, then buy all you want again, push and repeat.)
“The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News, and then
produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.”
Weeds spread quickly; they choke out the good growth. Weeds that may appear insignificant on the surface will often surprise you with their amazing strength. Strong boys can be sent toppling backwards in attempts to pull them up. Sin patterns in our life that may appear inconsequential initially may be laying down thick root systems that will be hard to pull up later. “There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again---it leads straight to hell,” Prov. 14:12.
When it comes to the junk in our life, God is the great recycler! He takes junk and makes it usable! Compost scrap veggies, fruits, egg shells and weeds break down to make rich soil that nourishes new growth. God recycles the junk in our life to bring beauty and nourish growth. "God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us..." 2 Cor. 1:3-4.
Pumpkin seeds thrown in compost from the previous fall surprise us by sprouting pumpkin plants right in the midst of all the compost trash! The pumpkin plant pictured on the left is the small plant in the center of the image. Just 3 ½ weeks later and the plant has grown to take over almost the whole compost area. It is thriving in the rich soil created by all the organic matter. The plant is undeterred by the daily piles of organic matter thrown on and around it; it thrives because the soil is so rich. “God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardner, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life,” James 1:20-21.
The pumpkin wasn’t alone in surprising us. We tried starting tomatoes in peat pots but they dried up from lack of watering, so, we threw the peat pots in the compost. Several weeks later we noticed tomatoes growing in compost! We failed to grow tomatoes in tiny peat pots, but they managed to work themselves into the rich compost soil and thrive. There are phases of our life when our spiritual growth may be stagnate, our lives feel parched and we are far from thriving. Yet, intentional changing of conditions in your life may find astounding growth just around the corner.