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The Seeds I’m Sowing

“There are long stretches of darkness and invisibility and silence that separate planting and reaping.” –Eugene Peterson


The Spanish ship Our Lady of Atocha sank in 1622, just off the Florida Keys. She was carrying a fortune in copper, silver, gold, gems and jewelry when she went down—which explains the vigorous court battles over rights to the wreck that have ensued since its discovery in 1985.

Among the team that examined items recovered from the wreck was an archaeologist. In the sand that had served as the ship’s ballast, he discovered a handful of seeds. To keep them from drying out, he placed them in a cup of fresh water. To his astonishment just a few days later, he discovered the seeds had sprouted leaves.

Seeds are magnificent things! Perhaps this is why Jesus often uses them as an example in teaching on the kingdom of God. Consider these examples:

“This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head” (Mark 4:26-28).

“What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade” (Mark 4:30-32).

In both of these parables, Jesus uses a seed to illustrate the way the kingdom of God germinates in people’s lives—the seed is first planted. By inference, our role is sowing seeds.

Once planted, the seed begins to grow. That part is God’s work. I’m caught by the phrase “the seed sprouts and grows, though [the one who planted the seed] does not know how.”

This can be a discouraging reality for the sower—for a long stretch of time we may not see anything resembling life, growth or fruit. It takes many months for pumpkin seeds to yield a pumpkin, many years for an acorn to become an oak.

It’s often a very involved process, but all the while God is at work. The apostle Paul understood his sowing among the people of Corinth in this light: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6).

He was confident in God’s ability and faithfulness to bring the work to completion: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Our role is to sow seeds … and trust.

My prayer for this week – Father, what spiritual seeds am I planting? At home? At work? Among my friends? Will you reassure me you are at work in and through the seeds I’m planting, even when I don’t see results? May I be faithful in sowing—as you are faithful in harvest!