Cultivating seeds to plants…

Perhaps this blog should wait a few weeks, when green grass is abundant and the dogwoods and crabapple trees are ripe with flowers. But it could not, because Spring is coming, in fact it is already peaking around the corner. My green thumb began itching and there was nothing that could be done: except to scratch it. And thus I did. Jennifer (my wife) and I purchased a good amount of bulbs at the local Wal-Mart. Cannas, caladium, hostas, peonies, dahlias, and others. I just couldn’t wait until the outdoors had warmed sufficiently, so they are individually planted in small starter pots, lined up one after another in the window of my home office. We planted them on Wednesday, and I have ventured into their room no less than three times daily since, checking progress and gauging the soil’s water content. All in the hope and anticipation that they will soon sprout, and that in due time they will blossom into the radiant, beautiful flowers they were meant to be. But it takes time, diligence, and skill to cultivate these seeds and bulbs into mature flowers. They need water, good soil, nutrients, and finally sunlight, the one thing I have no direct control over.

The Bible uses the seed metaphor numerous times. This is no accident. Our lives, our souls are much like those seeds. We are placed in certain situations, with specific parents, in specific locations, and blessed with specific gifts. Each of us have had gardeners in our own lives, who have watered and nourished us by loving and instructing us. Some have been youth leaders who have lived their lives before us. Other gardeners were pastors or authors, whose words have influenced us deeply. But in the end, the most skilled gardener in the ripest of conditions, cannot assure success.

I am a young, inexperienced man. But I have worked with students for some time, first senior high students and now junior high students. It is a great honor and responsibility, raising our youth, from birth to adulthood, but also a difficult task. One must have patience in this endeavor. The seeds I have planted take time to mature, and in the same way the children we raise, and the students we teach need time to mature. This task also requires study and skill. I have studied the art of gardening in the same way I have studied theology and practical ministry. The same should be said of parenting. We have a responsibility to nurture the skills God gives with study and practice.
I say all of these things for a couple of reasons. Let none of us take the honor of growing seeds lightly. It is to God’s glory that we do such things. May we be patient and faithful as we do so, using all of our skill and effort in the process. In this patience and faith, may we be humble to see and accept both our unique role as well others. Paul speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 3:

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

Some of us plant, some of us water, but God gives the growth, we must recognize all three elements. And no matter who you are, aid both the planters and the waterers. Parents pray for youth leaders, help them when you can. Often I see families and parents, who by the allocation of their time and money, view sports, music, or other activities as more important than their children’s spiritual development in connection with the church. This must not be so. Children’s ministry and student ministry leaders, we must take our jobs seriously. It isn’t simply a small way we can be involved in the church and make ourselves feel a little better. We are workers in God’s harvesting business. And finally trust God, for he is the one who causes the growth. Remember his plans and his timing are far better than ours. So when you don’t get the results you longed for, remain faithful. Continue spreading seeds, continue watering, for none of us knows God’s plan.

So as we watch the new season spring with life, think of our young ones. Plant faithfully, water faithfully, and be patient. For years or decades from now, the seeds will become men and women blossoming into the radiant, beautiful Christians they were meant to be.

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