S (Scripture): Mark 4:26 Jesus also said, “The kingdom of God is like someone who spreads seed on the ground. 27 He goes to sleep and gets up, night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 By itself the soil produces a crop, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29 And when the grain is ripe, he sends in the sickle because the harvest has come.”
O (Observation): While this text may seem mostly about the process of evangelism, I think this text lends itself more to the mystery of God’s divine action. Regardless of the action of the person spreading the seed, God is the one who makes the seed grow.
A (Application): I put a lot of pressure on myself when I started out my days as a pastor. I learned, rather quickly though, that despite my efforts and despite my hopes, I was not the one in charge of developing faith in others. I believed that if I had the right tools and the right efforts, I would see a correlation between my efforts and the number of people that came to faith (or came to strengthen their faith). That has not always been the case.
Do I give up? Certainly not!
Instead, my expectations have shifted. My role is to continue to plant the seeds, but God is in control of the divine mystery of figuring out when the stalk, the head, and the full grain in the head are ready. God is in charge of the harvest, even though I put effort into planting seeds or gathering the grains.
Have you put unrealistic expectations on your shoulders? When you think it’s all up to you, or the leadership in the church, or the pastor, you will be disappointed, just as I have been disappointed in myself from time to time. But when we give this burden over to the Lord – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – we experience a release like no other, and we become blessed to receive new and experienced followers of Christ into our fold.
P (Prayer): Lord, help us to remember that this world is your field to be planted by us, but that YOU are the one who mysteriously brings about faith in each one who calls you “Lord.” Amen.