The Parable Of The Seed Growing By Itself
“So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.”
1 Corinthians 3:7 (NKJV)
It was the sort of work you can only do on your knees. It has to be done in the open air during the time of transition from Winter to Spring, when it can still be quite cold and not easy to keep warm. Nor it is something that can done quickly, it proceeds slowly. Getting it done requires an investment of time and tends to be something which is done alone.
What am I talking about? Planting snowdrops “in the green” – that is, just after they have flowered. I was planting little clumps of snowdrops, slowly and methodically in a small spinney beside our home. Eventually it was done, they could be seen standing proud. I remember praying that they eventually would take root and grow. But they were at the end of the flowering period and began to die back, the nutrients from the leaves and flowers being absorbed by the bulb. In a few weeks they had totally disappeared into the ground. I’d done my part but seemingly without success. I was powerless to make them do anything.
There is a parallel here with other work which Christians do on their knees—prayer. Epaphras was “always labouring fervently in prayers.” (Colossians 4:12) Our prayers are often unseen and sometimes seemingly without results. In prayer we are adjusting our perspectives to fit in with God’s will.
In the following January in the depths of winter, the first of the snowdrops began to push their way through the soil, an encouraging sight. This has happened every year since, the reliable little snowdrops increasing in numbers and forming larger clumps. The time I had spent on my knees hadn’t been wasted. My hopes had been realised. The snowdrops were merely following the timetable which God had established for them.
There is a parallel in praying for the Kingdom of God to come. It is outlined in the parable of the seed growing by itself: “Then Jesus said, ‘God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time!” (Mark 4:26-29 The Message)
God will answer our prayers at the time of His choosing—sometimes not until he brings his Kingdom into its fullness. The snowdrops are a reminder that God has his divine timetable.
Eternal Father, thank you for the amazing design which we see around us in all your creation. Let it always remind us that you are in charge and working out your purposes on this earth.
Study by Harry Sullivan
Grace Communion Church Luton
Farley Hill Methodist Church
North Drift Way
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