Saturday, February 27, 2016

Follow the Light

Photo by Emilian Robert Vicol 2010

While reorganizing the kitchen pantry a few months ago I was surprised to find a plastic bag containing several vegetable seed packets dated 1998. I had totally forgotten they were there, but at least I learned that I really ought to clean out my cupboards more often!

Rather than toss the seeds, I thought it would be interesting to see if they had any life remaining in them, so I planted a few seeds of each variety in the wells of an egg carton.

Lo and behold, seven days later a determined seedling pushed through the soil, after 18 years of lying dormant in the dark! It was a bush bean, according to the notation I had made on the egg carton. The dried casing that had once covered the seed lay shriveled up beside the new sprout.

In the days and weeks to come the bean plant grew rapidly, shedding its first set of paired leaves and sporting new ones in clusters of three. Readers of this blog, knowing my penchant for patterns of three in nature and in Scripture as reflections of the Trinity, will understand my excitement at seeing these leaf triplets!

The bean stalk always inclined itself toward the overhead kitchen light, sometimes growing on an angle, so that I had to turn it in the opposite direction to help it grow straight. But no matter how often I turned it, it would keep reorienting toward the light.

About a week later, the bean sprout had company. A melon seedling timidly poked up through the soil, barely distinguishable from the white particles of perlite in the starter mix. But it was far less vigorous than the bean, and instead of following the light, it inclined itself toward the bean plant, apparently preferring its company to seeking out its own source of new life.

And, just as I had given up on any other seeds taking root, a very tiny, threadlike shoot appeared in the mint well. I practically needed a magnifier to spot it! Yes, these expired seeds (20 varieties) brought forth three live seedlings!

Despite more time, water, light and fertilizer, however, the mint only crept horizontally along the ground, stunted in its growth and never lifting itself to the light source or even to its neighbors.

Needless to say, it will be a long time, if at all, before we enjoy the fruits of this miniature “garden!” But at least observing these seeds grow brought to mind some Bible truths.

The first is to never give up hope! With God, all things are possible! (1 Peter 1:3; Matthew 19:26) To our human reason, planting seeds 18 years after their intended growing season is a ridiculous exercise in futility. But God’s timing is always perfect (Daniel 11:29; Galatians 4:2), and nothing is too hard for Him (Isaiah 59:1).

He promised and delivered a child to Abraham and Sarah when they were ancient and long past their fertile years (Genesis 18:14), blessing them with a son and all mankind with a great nation that would give rise to the Messiah (Genesis 26:4).

Much later, God the Father allowed His Son, Jesus Christ, God in human form, to raise Lazarus from the dead even when his body was already decomposing (John 11:39-44).

Best of all, He raised Jesus Christ Himself from the tomb (Matthew 28:6) to everlasting life in His glorified body, so that all who place their trust in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven will have forgiveness of sins and abundant and eternal life with Him! (John 10:10,28; 14:6; Acts 13:38; 26:18)

Our earthly body may crumble in the grave, left behind like a discarded seed covering, but our soul and spirit will one day unite with a heavenly body that will never age, get sick, feel pain or die (1 Corinthians 15:35-50).

God’s children may grow impatient waiting for Christ’s return (Titus 2:13) and the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) – I know that I keep looking up!. But we need to remember that with Him, one day is as a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8), and to have faith that He is working behind the scenes, allowing all who would be saved to accept Him (2 Peter 3:9), and preparing mansions in Heaven (John 14:2) for each of us!

In each of our lives there may be long periods of dormancy. Before we are saved, the Holy Spirit works in our lives and in our hearts to plow that infertile soil until His Word of salvation takes root (Matthew 13:3-23).

In my case, decades elapsed between the first time I heard a clear presentation of the Gospel and the moment I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. So never give up on praying for (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and witnessing to (Matthew 28:19) unsaved loved ones!

Once we become His children, there may be long periods when we are “on the shelf,” not engaged in meaningful service (1 Corinthians 9:27) or bearing fruit (Matthew 21:19), either through our own disobedience or because God is preparing us for a much greater work. We should pray for brothers and sisters in Christ going through these fallow times, for we can have faith that He has an amazing plan for each of us (Jeremiah 29:11).

How can we live so as to orient ourselves with that perfect plan? By following His light. No matter which way the world turns us about and tries to pull us away from God, Who is Light (1 John 1:5), we must constantly keep our gaze and mind fixed on Him. Just as the bush bean grows constantly in the direction of the light, we must walk in the Light, and then we will bear the fruit of the Spirit (Ephesians 5:8-14).

That will bring us the perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3) of knowing that we are in His will and that He is guiding our path (Psalm 119:105), giving us direction to grow in Him. He is the Light of the world (John 8:12; 12:46), and if we follow His light, we too are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), turning others from darkness to light (Romans 2:19; Acts 26:18).

The melon, growing sideways as it inclined toward its neighbors, reminded me of those who are attracted to personalities in the church, or even to false teachings (2 Timothy 4:3), and not to Christ Himself (1 Corinthians 1:12-15). As our late pastor used to say, man will always let you down, but Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

It makes me wonder how many unsaved people are still in the dark because they have concluded that Christians are hypocrites, and how many Christians have dropped out of service because they were hurt by a pastor or other church leaders?

And finally there is the mint, stunted in its growth because it only crept along the dirt. Men prefer the darkness because their deeds are evil (John 3:19), shirking from the Light Who will expose their flaws. If we keep our minds in the gutter by exposing our eyes, ears and senses to filth, we cannot experience the renewing of our minds and transformation (Romans 12:1-2) into the new creature Christ wants us to be in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).

May we focus on what is good, lovely and pure (Philippians 4:8) by following His Light, so that we can be the light of the world and lead others to Him!  

© 2016 Laurie Collett
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Winkel's Crazy Ideas said...

Thank you so much for another inspiring post, this one felt special as it lifts up truths that I need to focus on. On a shelf and struggeling with severe illness, experiencing the coldness and rejection of certain fellow Christians, your post and Bible quotes meant so very much. Waiting for God's perfect timing, I pray that He will fill me with peace and patience and love for all other people. So hard, but with God all things are possible. Blessings, from Pam in Norway

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
I find it amazing how you can compare various species of plants to different types of people you may find in a church. It has reminded me that there are four different types of ground where the seed falls, but only one yields the crop that would benefit the sower.
Your demonstration that a bag of seeds can remain dormant for almost two decades, then sprout after sowing, really goes to show how true Paul was when he wrote about the death of the seed taking place before new life begins as explained in 1 Corinthians 15.
As the seed in the Lord's parable represents the Word of God, so the actual Word of God can remain dormant over thousands of year until sown into the right kind of heart, when eventually it will sprout and bear fruit.
A great post. God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Psm,
I am so blessed by your comment. It is always my prayer that God will use the words on this page to uplift and encourage readers. Praying for you, for health, Christian fellowship, and the peace that passes all understanding. May we all be filled with His love and light, let them flow through us to others, and trust in His perfect will and timing.
Love in Christ,

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. Jesus and Paul both spoke using illustrative language that would ring true with people of their day, living in an agrarian society. The parable of the sower, the law of the harvest, the wheat and tares, etc. were all in terms easily understood by those who depended on farming for their food. Today, these seem more removed from the urban lifestyles most experience, yet all it takes is a few moments with a few seeds to be reminded of these basic truths. Praise God that His Word remains vibrant and relevant in any age.
Thank you for sharing your insights and God bless,

Denise said...

really interesting post.

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Denise! God bless!

Donald Fishgrab said...

Seeds that had been in ancient storage pots for hundreds, or thousands of years have been planted and some have grown. We need to plant wherever we are because we don't know which will grow or which will not, although time spent preparing the ground definitely increases our chances. Great post..

Laurie Collett said...

That is amazing, that seeds that old can still grow, proving that God's timing is perfect, and nothing is too hard for Him. Praise God that He rewards us for planting regardless of the outcome, because salvation is accomplished only by the Holy Spirit. Thanks as always for your insightful comment, and God bless.