|Photo by Emilian Robert Vicol 2010|
Given the time of year -- nearly spring -- and the COVID restrictions causing many to spend more time at home, many people may be planning or even starting a spring garden. Planting has many spiritual applications, from sowing the seed, to nurturing and watering the growing shoots, to bearing fruit and harvesting the crops. This reminded me of a post I wrote several years ago, reposted below.
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
Edited and reposted from the archives
Interesting about how old seeds can still germinate after years of inactivity. Perhaps this may explain how the earth was quickly reforested not long after the Flood.
And as for the often slow rate of personal sanctification, the younger branches of the vine seems to indicate that they won't bear fruit for the first year, and therefore their need to be lifted up to catch the maximum sunshine. The following year it will produce inferior fruit, indicating the need to be pruned before good fruit begins to appear.
This looks to be what Jesus was talking about in John 15.
I thank the Lord that although I can be slow to mature, God is not impatient, and will continue to work in us and through us.
Blessings to you and Richard.
Great point about reforestation after the flood. It is also true that babes in Christ need constant nurturing and care, and later chastising, before they produce optimal fruit. And yet, the woman at the well ran off in haste to witness once she was saved, and most of her village and region were likely converted as a result.
Praise the Lord for His infinite compassion, mercy and patience with His children.
Thanks as always for your comment. May God bless you and Alex,
Hi Laurie, lovely informative post. I love the way the Lord encourages us with signs accompanying His Word. As I was reading your post a song that I listened to on YouTube earlier today came into my mind. It is called 'Don't give up' til it's over' sung by an Irish singer called Tommy Fleming. Nothing is coincidence Laurie. God bless.
Great post, Laurie.
Archaeologists have grown seeds from from some of the pueblos that have been deserted for five or six hundred years and they produced crops. It is such a reminder that there is still hope for those who heard God's word many years ago, even though it seems like they have forgotten. God's word will not return void.
Amen, Brenda! I love how the Lord sends confirmation through repetition of messages He especially wants us to hear. There are no "coincidences" with Him, any more than His magnificent creation "just happened by accident."
God bless you too!
Thanks, Donald! Great analogy, that seeds, like God's Word, can lie dormant for many years before bearing fruit. I was saved (while sitting on a plane without anyone witnessing to me) decades after I heard (and rejected) a very clear presentation of the Gospel by an evangelist sitting next to me on a train. Thanks as always for your on-point comment. God bless,
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