Years ago, one of our members decided that I needed a garden. I guess he figured that if I learned how to grow my own food, then the church wouldn't have to pay me so much! So he tilled up a little area in back of the church building, and came into my office a told me that I was to tend it. I didn't. So he then planted a few things for me and told me all I needed to do was water and weed it. I didn't. So he took care of my little garden for me right along with his own. Next think I knew, there were grocery sacks of vegetables sitting outside my office door. I decided that this gardening thing was pretty easy!
Of course, it isn't really easy at all. But then, God does the really hard part, right? He places the real power of growth in the seeds we plant. Sure, we plow and plant, water and wait, but God takes care of the growth. In Mark 4, Jesus used several different parables drawn from farming. The first of these, the Parable of the Sower, stresses the need for the soil to be prepared to receive God's word. The next two parables stress that the power of spiritual growth is always God's.
The Growing Seed (Mark 4:26-29). Jesus here uses the mystery of the growing seed to emphasize the power of God's word. The farmer does not have to understand how a seed germinates and grows; all he has to do is to trust the process. The power is in the seed, not the farmer. All by itself, the seed brings forth life. In that sense, every seed is magic. In the same way, we don't have to understand how God bears fruit in our lives. All we have to do is trust the process.
- The Mustard Seed (Mark 4:30-32). The Jews accepted as proverbial that the mustard seed was the smallest of all seeds. But the plant produced such a large shrub that birds could mistake it for a tree. What starts out very small can grow very large. Our experience in the faith may have a very humble beginning. But that small start can give rise to something very large. The seed that looks so tiny and small has the potential to grow large and strong in each one of us.
Both of these parables stress the power that the power in spiritual growth is God's. Faith grows all by itself from a small beginning into something that is very large and very strong. We don't have to understand or chart and diagram the progress. What we have to do is trust God. The process of spiritual growth can seem overwhelming. We look at where we are in our walk with God in relationship to where we need to be, and we can despair that we will ever become what God calls us to become. But there is power in the seed within us, the power to change and grow. We don't have to understand the process. All we have to do is look to the Lord of Harvest and keep watering the seed that He has placed within us.