The other week I was asked to share at a Ladies Breakfast. I was told that the topic for that morning was Seeds and Seasons and little did that person know but the night before I was asked, I had been reading about the very subject of seeds. As well as this, I just so happen to have a garden nestled in the backyard of my new home this year. I am very excited about this! Do I know what I’m doing? No, not yet. I will probably spend the first few weeks eating weeds and boasting about how delicious it is to have home grown veggies. But thank God, who is the gardener of my life, that He knows exactly what He is doing. He understands the seed and He works on the soil. He knows what conditions are needed for those seeds to dig deep into the soil and to one day reap a harvest!
Perhaps when some of you think of the word ‘seeds’ in the Bible, you immediately think of the parable mentioned in Matthew 13 and if you have never heard of it, I do encourage you to take some time to read it. I would like to quickly summarise it to paint the picture of seeds, soil and growth. Here Jesus is sharing to large crowds of people and as he describes each soil type and situation, I am sure they were all wondering if this really was gardening lesson or was there something more to it? Jesus describes four types of ground that the seeds fall onto each time. The first is a path and even if we take just a moment to imagine the hard ground that we walk on everyday, it isn’t long before we understand that a seed wouldn’t survive here at all. The concrete is too hard and doesn’t allow anything to get pasts it’s surface. The second one mentioned is that of the rocky ground. So a not as hard as the pathway but is still rough with stone throughout it. There is no depth here either and therefore there is no root and as the elements such as sun beams down on it, it whither away in the end. The third ground mentioned is thorny and the thorns end up choking the seed, and they too don’t survive. Lastly, Jesus mentions what he calls the good soil and it is here that grain is produced up to even a hundred fold, sixty or thirty! So with this picture in mind, I would like to share some of what I had been thinking and reading about when Jacinda contacted me a few weeks ago. It was then that I had stumbled upon a blog post called Seeds by Kelly Minter (as I love to read some of the many good bloggers there are out there) and it was here that a few things stuck out to me about this passage that I had never really taken the time to consider, if I must admit.
Although I had some understanding that the seeds in the text can represent God’s truths mentioned or shared with people. However, it had never really struck me that the seeds can never be bad, it is always good! (Perhaps when we are gardening and things aren’t coming to fruition, we might ponder as to whether it was a bad seed.) But from the text mentioned, the lack of growth was always due to the type of soil and not from the type of seeds. Indeed, we can see that is due to the condition of the soil that determines its growth and or lack of in that person’s life.
So what is the soil? As people were more accustomed to hearing parables, I’m sure the large groups listening to Jesus began to see that the soil can represent the condition of our hearts! And it is the condition of our hearts that can aid in producing a harvest, through the power of that always good and never bad seed! So the seed comes across the soil. I think it is particularly interesting to note here that every type of soil encounters the seed. Depending on the soil type it might or might not grow. For a seed to grow roots and eventually produce, it also must have the presence of two things – light and water. Of course the soil and seed need to be watered and how cool to think of this analogy when we see that the picture of water mentioned in the Bibles often represents the Holy Spirit. Therefore, to bring it in, we all hear God’s word and depending on the condition of our heart, we may or may not receive these truths and produce growth. As God’s Word is rooted in our lives, we also need God, the Holy Spirit, to take it from our head to our hearts and then to outpour from our lives. This is the harvest! People coming to know the Lord more and more! How encouraging to hear of the good soils that produces a hundred fold- sixty and thirty! God can do so much more in our hearts and lives, more than we can imagine or do within ourselves. We need him!
Another thing to note about Seeds and their growth is that it takes times for this to happen. Like a gardener, God is patient in seeing to the produce and harvest. He gives us seasons in our lives that allow us to grow. He gives us circumstances and various stages that aid in continuing to cultivate a soft, receiving and fertile soil. Again, I would encourage you to read a little from Ecclesiastes 3, very much known for being the passage of seasons. We cannot help but hear the word ‘time’ mentioned over and over again here. It takes time in these season, sometimes the seasons sound great and sometimes the seasons mentioned are not ones that I would particularly enjoy going through. But I love how this text begins. First of all it states that ‘for everything there is a season’. And then it goes on to say ‘for every matter under heaven’. Before we read the list of seasons, we know that with God, He gives reason and purpose for whatever season we are going through. Sometimes he uses seasons of a great rain of sorrow, or seasons of immense sunshine and joy. Other times God may choose to use a season of loss like the leaves that fall in autumn and another He may use a season of new beginnings as we see in Spring. All these seasons, to produce a soil that will continue to receive the seed and produce a harvest. All these seasons, to be changed to be more like Him and to grow in Him. How comforting to know that His word promises that it will never return back void and it will produce that harvest.
Lastly, I want to add a little something about both Seeds and seasons that I can see in my own life. This month when I was in Ireland, I was reading some of my old journals, as I have enjoyed journaling since I was even as young as six. I was reading a journal from 2011, a particular difficult time in life for me. I had just finished my BA at Art college and wondering what to do before I went on to do a teaching degree. I was so surprised to see a little to do list on one of the pages, as I never remembered writing down the option of ministry in New Zealand. Although I had contemplated New Zealand at the time, I didn’t realise that I had been thinking about doing any sort of ministry for so long. I was particularly surprised as it was a time of my life that I wasn’t surrendering everything to the Lord, so to see the word ‘ministry’ there struck me. Thankfully, God didn’t answer that prayer then. And I think I can understand why now looking back at it. It certainly wasn’t the season for this to happen as I know that the soil was not in the right condition. The condition of my heart was actually quite hardened at the time. If I could describe it, it was actually quite rocky or thorny. Hardened and a little bitter, my heart was too shallow and tough to receive God’s authority into my life. Indeed, God knew that He needed to work on the soil. I needed to grow through some more seasons before the fruit was ripe and the timing was right. In the end, over the years as I began teaching, I thought that my opportunity to move to New Zealand has passed and certainly the opportunity to work in some sort of ministry. But here I am and God’s direction in that is a whole other story.
However, my whole point of mentioning this is to be a testament that God will grow us as we receive Him with all our heart and experience the seasons He places us in. That in some seasons, He wants us to be patient and to trust in Him to be at work. It takes time, maybe because we live in a faster paced world, we expect to see results quicker! We might not want the seasons, we simply want to go from the seed to the harvest. But how comforting it is to know that God is always at work, even if its work that is unseen as its in the ground as the roots grow deeper. That he uses the seasons to grow us and it is not in vain. Pouring into chapter three of Ecclesiastes shows us that there is a time for everything and if we are trusting in the Lord, receiving Him with an open heart towards Him, then He will grow us in Him. Remember, the seed is never bad. God is trustworthy! If anything I hope that this has encouraged you to dig deep into His Word, to plant it into a soft and receiving heart, to have perspective in the season that He has placed you in and to be hopeful that He will fulfill His promises to grow you and produce a harvest!
I hope to share some about the garden another time, with veggies of silverbeat , potatoes, courgette……( I can’t even name them all cause I’m a terrible gardener ) it does contain anaroma of mint and the lemon, fejoa and pear trees accompany them in all its abundance. Basically, for all you Irish out there….. I am the next Happy Pear!