I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.
1 Corinthians 3.6
Back in the fall, we removed three old trees from the churchyard (and planted three new ones nearby!). It was a good and necessary change. But the removal of a large tree always leaves a significant patch of bare ground behind – in this case, three of them. And I have to admit that I am a bit of a stickler about bare patches in the lawn. They must be fixed!
So, at our spring workday, the woodchips were covered over with topsoil and a generous layer of grass-seed was put down over the top. Since it was spring, I figured my work might be largely done – rain this time of year usually coming in copious amounts. But the month of April, for the most part, was unusually dry. So much so that we even had a couple of wildfire warnings early in the month (in April!). So, stickler that I am about those bare patches, I pulled the church’s garden hose as far as it would stretch, and got out there most every day to water my precious grass seed.
But, after three weeks or so, very little was happening. A few tiny sprigs of grass peaked their heads up here and there, but the results were nothing like I would have thought I would see by the last week of the month. Quite disappointing, especially to a type-A like me!
Well, in the last couple of weeks, we have had several heavy rains. And guess what? The grass is finally making some real headway! It grew more in one week than in the previous three weeks combined! And it seems to me that there are a couple of spiritual lessons in that …
First, sometimes seeds take longer to germinate than we thought they would – even good seeds; even faithfully sown seeds; even carefully watered seeds. Sometimes the growth just doesn’t happen ‘according to the book.’ And that is just as true when we sow the seed of God’s word as when sowing Scott’s EZ Seed – probably more so! God is the one who causes the growth of the gospel seed. And He is not obligated to bring the crop after what we think should be a reasonable germination period. Many of His seeds take a long time finding their way into the right crevice of a person’s heart. And we must learn to be patient.
The other lesson to be learned from my grass-growing travails is simply that God can do more in a single heavy shower than we can do in weeks of watering. Try as I might, and saturate the ground as I did … I could not reproduce the effect of a heavy thundershower, and the deep saturation that it brings to the soil. And the same is true with spiritual seed. Yes, we must plant. And yes, we must also water. But then we must get on our knees and pray that God will do, with the seed we have sown, what we can never do! We must beg Him to come, by His Holy Spirit, and saturate the ground such that the good seed cannot help but grow!
So let me ask you: Are you sowing the seed of God’s word upon the hearts of friends, children, family, co-workers, and so on? Are you watering it with continued encouragement and words in season? Is it growing like you thought it might? If not, don’t lose heart. Rather, get on your knees before the Lord, asking Him to do, in a moment, what you cannot accomplish in a lifetime of watering. And then wait until the rains come … and stand back, amazed at what God alone can do!