July 12, 2012

Go to Seed

I used to the think that people who were really into gardening just didn't have very much going on in their lives.  They probably liked plants more than people and thats why yard work was all they could talk about.  I thought tending plants and nurturing harvests toward their glorious, life yielding destiny was what old ladies did with their abundance of spare time.  

But in college I developed the classic state of education induced poverty.  Learning there was a community garden near my house that would give me a source of water and a plot of land the size of a large bedroom for just six dollars a quarter, I hurled myself into gardening face first.  With wild, hunger driven zeal I hacked and tilled that awful central Californian clay soil and reddened my skin under the spring sun getting that garden into shape.  If gardening was what old ladies did in their spare time, then I had certainly underestimated the strength of most old ladies.  

Standing on the ready dirt one dewy morning with my hardware store bag of seeds that represented all the food I was aspiring to enjoy, I ripped open the first seed packet and dumped all 30 or so beet seeds into my hand.  In my palm's hollow, though I had yet to realize it, I held what would soon be more beets than I would know what to do with as soon as summer wore off.  "Well, I guess you just stick them in the ground…" I said to myself after half reading the instructions on the seed packet, " I guess it's that simple."  

so I did.  

And four minutes later, I stepped back and looked at my work.  It took four minutes to plant 30 seeds and my dirt plot, newly sown, looked exactly the same.  I don't know what I expected, maybe a sense of accomplishment.  But it was undeniable how anticlimactic sowing seed felt.  Kale seeds were even smaller and they kept getting stuck to my fingers, flicking everywhere except into my pre-planned soil rows.

It took just fifteen minutes to plant every seed I brought.  Each seed, as I released it, became a single, clear realization into my mind: "This is so easy.  It's just so simple.  Just drop it where it should go and the seed will do its own job."  Despite its visual modesty, sowing seed was so smooth and effortless and hope-filled, it was almost addicting.  The physical action of planting is what Jesus and later Paul would use to describe an invisible process: how man and God begin to be reconciled.   That each word of God is a seed, and those of us who believe His words become the sowers.  That God choses to reveal Himself to man by process, by the planting of a seed of truth that is destined to produce peace with God if brought to the right conditions in the loam of man's heart.    

There is no denying that the first efforts are the hardest.  Hearts and grounds are difficult to convince that there is the potential for real, brimming life hidden within them.  But the relaying of the seed of His message is immensely simple.  Simple, and often anticlimactic.  The struggle we usually have in planting seeds is not the planting, but the waiting and trusting it requires.  When the ground crosses it's arms and glares back at us, unmoved by what we have given it, we easily become discouraged.  But our discouragement is proof we have forgotten Who's seed we're dealing with.  We have forgotten that it is the zeal of Gods ardent love, wrapped humbly and elegantly in the message He gave us that sparks the first breath of a soul and a harvest from soil that previously could only sustain invasive weeds.  The success of the seed relies on the interaction between the seed and the soil, not the talent or good looks or even the tenacious desire of the sower.  

All seeds, including the seed of God's desire to save man, WANT to live.  They will grow and sprout indiscriminately- between sidewalk cracks or on sheer cliff walls.  Seeds will sprout trees, and tree's roots will one day rupture the very sidewalks that cities and towns try to contain them in.  All seeds, spiritual and otherwise, cannot be underestimated and their sowing and the importance of it should not be misunderstood.  It is a small and joyful action to sow.  The Creator of all seeds and salvation meant it to be so straightforward so that no ground would go uninformed, so eager He is to forever live with and within us.

And as much as our patience can fail towards the precious seeds we have sometimes shyly strewn, what is more inspiring or important than to see that which was dead come to life?   All those old ladies who gleefully sacrifice time, effort and money just to be a part of helping the ground respond to the information it is given have all found something: a kingdom in a field.  A redemption of sterile space.  An unpretentious investment producing immense satisfaction and order.  They, like the messengers of Jesus, realize the sheer joy of brand new life and just how exciting it is to propagate it, no matter what the sacrifice.  Though it may not seem like it in the moment, just a handful of His words faithfully laid within earshot of the churned, tender heart-ground that surrounds us is all that is needed to trigger radical, eternal vitality therein.

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