After the joy of Easter, the evidence and logic of the arguments in support of the resurrection presented by theologians and by popular press, and The Bible television series on the History channel these past five weeks, we watch and long for belief and immediate transformation of our culture, ourselves, and those we love. We want the fruit now!
The facts of the gospel are clear as day to us. Our eyes have been opened. We have believed. We employ the gifts God has given, writing our books, crafting our bible studies, sharing the gospel face to face, reasoning with doubters, laboring, and serving.
We want results now!
Yet, in multiple parables, Jesus reminded his disciples of the gradual nature of growth. When the seed of the gospel is sown, much chokes it out and many cares snatch it away. It is God who prepares the soil and determines how and when the seed will grow. As we all work out our salvation with fear and trembling, God brings it to completion. Growth is in God’s hands.
“The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows: he knows not how” (Mark 4:26-27).
Gardeners know how long it takes those seeds to burst forth in the spring. The soil is cool. The cracking open of soil by young seedling often takes weeks. We stand and peer at the dark, undisturbed sown soil, waiting for evidence. But it takes time before the fledglings peek through the dirt. And then, before fruit results, the young plants must sink their roots and mature.
And so, like the proverbial sown mustard seed, the kingdom of God grows, enlarging to overtake the other garden plants, shooting out branches that support birds and nestlings. From something as tiny as the seed of a word, the church grows to impact and welcome in the world. As with all seeding, the growth is gradual, and it is overseen by God.
A hard heart softens week by week, month by month, and year by year. The fledgling tugs of belief nudge the conscience and open the eyes. Truths are comprehended that were previously mystery. Conviction grows. Love cracks open the heart. The sown seed penetrates and takes root. But it takes time. Growth is gradual.
We sow the seed. But the results are in God’s hands. We use our gifts to proclaim his message and to encourage and help his people. But the outcome is his. Take a deep breath, beloved. Pray. Labor. Obey. Rely on him. Trust God for the results.
What results do you see God producing in his time and in his way?
Top six images: FreeDigitalPhotos.net