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When I was little, my grandma and grandpa taught me how to garden. By the time I was knee-high, so was the corn outside their back porch window. Between sweet leaves of butter lettuce and oodles of potatoes, squash, and zucchini, I eventually saw how the seeds we planted sprouted into produce.
From May to August, however, I often got frustrated when the crops were not quite ready. My five-year-old mind did not comprehend that what I planted in May would need watered, fed nutrients and minerals, and tended to before it would produce a plentiful crop. I planted my seeds today, and I wanted them tomorrow.
Perhaps we too often have this view today.
Plant Now, Sow Later:
I pray today, and I want my prayer answered right now.
I witness to a student, and I want them saved the second the offer tumbles out of my mouth.
I start mentoring kids, and I desire to see their changes instantly.
I seek to improve my health, but I long to see the impact yesterday.
I start a new job, yet I want the paycheck before I have even put in the work.
As humans who live in a fast-paced society, we often do not see the benefit of planting seeds. Because if we are honest, we would rather plant full-grown shoots, not seedlings that take time, effort, water, and nutrients to grow. And if we could, I am sure we would plant fully grown vegetables and fruits included!
In 1 Corinthians chapter 3, Apollos and Paul face a similar predicament.
As servants of the Highest God, both men dedicate their lives to the cause and ministry of Jesus Christ. Their biggest desires in life are not only to spread the Gospel but get people saved. And evidently, they know this challenge of planting seeds, yet waiting for them to grow.
I suspect based on verses 1-9, that this waiting was not easy for either of them. I do not think it is easy for us today, either.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world? After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:1-9, New Living Translation; bold and emphasis added).
Letting Things Grow:
Let me reiterate that point again in verses 5-9, but with you and I substituted:
After all, who is Amber (your name here)? Who is her friend (your name here)? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. Amber planted the seed in your hearts, and my friend watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building
You see, there is beauty and grace in waiting.
In planting seeds and watching them grow.
Because that is when God does His best work.
When we release control that we never possessed in the first place, we are able to watch Him take over and make things grow.
Even and especially in the middle of deserts, hail storms, and unlikely circumstances. When we see the fruit least, maybe that is when He is doing the most watering, nourishing, pruning, and growing.
A Place of Surrender:
It is only when we lay the things down we are planting that God begins to do His best work and produce the most fruitful crops in our lives.
And just as a farmer is patient with the crops he plants every year, we, too, must be patient with the crops God is producing, nourishing, and pouring into our lives.
Some days, we can clearly see these seeds growing.
Our health is thriving.
The students are changing.
Words we speak are getting through stubborn heads and hearts.
But perhaps the most beautiful and significant part of our journeys is on the hard days without rain or sunshine.
On the days the flowers are wilting, and the corn stalk has shrunk in size.
On the days our health is fading, and we have no other hope than to press into the light which surrounds us.
On the days those we love most hurt us the worst.
On the days we cannot see the seeds growing, and our adversary has hacked down every sign of life, growth, and warmth possible.
For the days we are not able to see growth or progress, He is moving mountains below sea level.
And on the days we struggle to see how our efforts are ever going to make a difference, transform lives, change outcomes, know that God is the one making the seeds grow.
He Makes Things Grow:
Our job is not to make things grow.
Our job is to faithfully plant the seeds, and watch God do the rest.
While we are called to put in the hard work it takes to plant seeds, God never intended for us to place the pressure of growth on ourselves. Only God can change hearts, heal bodies, and create changes in those we witness or minister to.
We can lay foundations. We can dig deep wells, plant deeper roots, and water like there is no tomorrow. But at the end of the day, the Lord is the one in control of how our seeds grow and the fruit we harvest.
“Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:10-11, New Living Translation).
Keep planting, sweet friends.
He’s faithfully making things grow.