Some people are good with seeds, sowing and gardening – you might hear them described as ‘green fingered’! For others, it is a rare joy when seeds sown begin to resemble any like they look on the packet. There are so many obstacles to success – too hot, too dry, too cold, too wet, too little time, too much time, birds, cats, too many things to mention! Even if we bother to clear the ground, have a seed bed and protective netting, it’s a long time from sowing to reaping with no foregone conclusions. If we couldn’t just pop to the market or a shop, there would be a lot more interest and a lot less procrastination when it comes to the sowing of seeds, leeks or otherwise!
- ‘Sowing is not as difficult as reaping’ – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
- ‘Even after a bad harvest there must be sowing’ – Lucius Annaeus Seneca
- ‘Gardeners are good at nurturing, and they have a great quality of patience, they're tender. They have to be persistent’ – Ralph Fiennes
- ‘I just think that gardening is about the future, a slow thing, that is deep and spiritual as well as spiritually rewarding’ – Monty Don
- ‘Gardening is, apart from having children, the most rewarding thing in life’ – Alan Titchmarsh
Here are some essential gardening tips from The One who first planted a garden and who is interested in how we go about gardening during our lives in the garden of Earth that was made for us to steward and enjoy:
- ‘As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well’ – Ecclesiastes 11:5-6
- ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot’ – Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2
Jesus described his Father as ‘the Gardener’ and keenly observed human nature with parables based on gardening. Here’s one of the two favourites:
‘A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown’ – Luke 8:4-8
Jesus told those listening to this parable: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear’. What do you perceive it to mean when it was first told to the disciples? They needed it to be explained! What might it mean to your life today? Knowing we would need help, Jesus gives us the insight:
‘This is the meaning of the parable: the seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop’ – Luke 8:11-15
How do you handle the most precious seed on the planet? The seed of the gospel is the most valuable but the most neglected of seeds. This is strange - within the DNA of a leek seed is the hope of a leek and potato soup! Within the DNA of the gospel is the hope of eternal life, yours and everyone else into whose life you sow it. We are not called to make the seed grow for only God can do that. We are called to sow the seeds. As you consider the person who sowed the seed into your life, give thanks for them and for the wonder that your heart was good soil. Although the shoot may have seemed fragile, the grace of God gives the right conditions for you to fulfil your potential. Many other seeds were sown around the same time as you but have fallen away in times of testing or the initial growth has been choked. As you mature, so you reveal the DNA of God’s family and continue the cycle of seed sowing, for we all sow something.
- ‘Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up’ – Galatians 6:7-9
- ‘For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son’ – Romans 8:29
- ‘No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognised by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn-bushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of’ – Luke 6:43-45
- ‘This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples’ – John 15:8
If you think about your life as having seasons leading up to the culmination of harvest, you can easily reflect on which season you feel yourself to be in now. Sometimes we find ourselves in a time of seasonal change due to changed circumstances, health or bereavement. Such a time is a gift in which to consider the soil, the growth, the store of seed, the weeds, the straightness of your ploughing and the best way to use the remaining time to maximise your harvest. If the end of our lives on earth is a time when the harvest of our lives is revealed by the Lord of the Harvest, let’s apply our talents well in the opportunities given during the time that is left to us. For best results, sow in faith and hope as doubt and fear will give a mingy yield at best.
- ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness’ – Matthew 25:23
- ‘If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved – even though only as one escaping through the flames’– 1 Corinthians 3:12-15
- ‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’ – Ephesians 2:10
There are people and places in which you alone can be the sower, whatever the stage of life you may be. These are those works prepared in advance for you – recognise them today and ask God to help you bear fruit with courage, faith and love. While you’re at it, ‘consider the lilies of the field’ ... and the leeks! No sowing, no growing!
TAGS – maturity, growing, future, time, purpose, likeness, productivity, transformation, usefulness