Good morning and welcome to Monday’s podcast. My name is Alan and it is a great privilege to be taking over from Casey and leading us through the podcasts this week.
Today’s reading is from Mark 4:26-41, but I am going to focus on v26-29:
He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
A few years ago a friend was struggling with a crisis of faith. He was a leader within the church and he was struggling to see how the faith he read about in the Bible matched his current reality. When he came and spoke to me I thought that it was my job to persuade him back into the kingdom. “Why don’t you read this book!?” “Let’s meet for a beer and talk about it!” He was a friend and I wanted to help… I really thought that I could fix him.
But I couldn’t, it wasn’t my job!
I don’t know about you but I have always found it rather hard to reason someone into the kingdom of God. Engaging the head is important but it’s when God touches the heart that lives change.
So… The next time a friend came to me with a similar crisis of faith, just a few weeks later, I took a different tack. Yes, we went out and talked about the struggles he was facing but I knew that I couldn’t fix him. I knew that no amount of clever reasoning would convince him to keep going with God. Instead I listened… I told him I couldn’t fix him… and prayed a simple prayer that God would reveal himself in a new way. Within a couple of weeks he was back, secure in his faith and firing on all cylinders once again.
Jesus said, “Whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain…”
God is the master gardener and he is pretty good at it! We may have been given seeds to sow: a story to tell, some understanding of who God is and how he works, but he is in charge of the whole enterprise. He determines the seeds, where they will land and what plants will grow as a result.
The important thing is for us to know what our role is in the process.
When I met Helen I thought I could fix her. It became very obvious, very early on that fixing her was not my job. It was really unhelpful. Instead my role is to love her, to accept her, to value her and cheer her on. It is a real privilege to accept that role and although I am sure that I mess it up as much as I succeed, it is great to see her grow through the good time and the struggles.
I have 3 children and they are all unique, they are all very different. Helen and I love them, feed them, and train them as best we can but we can only nurture what God has already put within them. God has a plan for each of them. I cannot change who they are becoming, I cannot alter the seeds that have been planted. I cannot make a swimmer out of a singer. I cannot make an accountant out of a creative, I cannot make a long distance runner out of a dancer. No, my job and my delight is to discover their talents and encourage them – to see God’s design in them and help them to see it for themselves. It’s a joy and a privilege but I don’t get to decide who they are and what they will do with their lives. All by themselves the soil of their lives is growing and developing…
How about us? Do we know our role in the lives of those we meet? Do we step in and try to fix those around us? Do we try to encourage people to be something that they are not? Do we try and make things happen that we have no control over?
We have all been given unique gifts that are given to us to help develop and grow and mature the church community and we have all been given seeds to sow: the story of our lives and our own experience of God at work. We all have the opportunity to tell others about Jesus. We can all go out of our way to help those around us in practical ways. We can all ask those around us if they would like to invite God into their lives to experience something of the love and life that he has given us. But only God will make those seeds grow. Only God can change a heart.
Let’s pray for an opportunity to sow some seeds today and have the privilege of seeing God powerfully at work in the lives of those around us.
Jesus, thank you for the immense privilege of playing our part in bringing in the harvest. Today I ask that you would give us an opportunity to sow seeds: to share our stories of where you are at work in our lives with those around us. Help us to spot those who are ready to be harvested and have the courage to ask if others would like to become a disciple of Jesus. Amen.
READING: Mark 4:26-41
He also said, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces corn – first the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. As soon as the corn is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.’
Again he said, ‘What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.’
With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’
They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’