Saturday, October 24, 2015

Intentional Seed Planters

I’m into the last week or so of the Bible study notes for September and October.  I have been faithful and not skipped too many days except for last week when I was on holiday. Not only had I taken my study with me but also a new notebook with the intention of keeping some kind of journal of the places we visited, the things we saw, the people we met, the food we ate – the usual fare.  The notebook is as new as it was when I left.  The writer in me didn’t really surface and it was too hot, and I was too miserably bitten all over to that care much. A bottle of insect repellent with all natural ingredients I had picked up from a craft fair, crafted to deal with the West Coast midge did little to stop the nightly onslaught of Maltese mosquitos. But I digress.

The Bible notes have focussed on the book of Luke. I’m more of an Old Testament gal really.  I feel like I have tramped over the gospels so often that it can be difficult to find something new – not that rediscovering something old doesn’t have its appeal.

We were into the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast.  I admit to groaning as a plethora of stuff I already knew flapped around me like bats from an old belfry.  I’d done the autopsy years back when I did my “O” levels, “A” levels and a degree.  I knew context and form and had a mental filing cabinet’s worth of information gleaned from sermons over the years.  I felt justified in groaning but settled down anyway and asked God to show me His truth in the stories.

The Bible I’m using is on my kindle.  Once I am done reading, and making copious notes, that I really need to start looking over, I have developed a habit of “googling” the story and making more copious notes from various study sites.

“Mel,” said God, “You asked for My truth on the story.  Why are you looking for someone else’s truth?”

He boiled the story of the mustard seed down to just a single sentence.

“It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden.” Luke 13:19

The man’s action to take a seed and plant it in his garden was a deliberate action.  He was not a farmer in the parable of the Sower who scattered seeds.  This man took a single seed and planted it.  He didn’t just clear the ground and hope that a mustard seed would casually fall into the ground.  His actions were planned and intentional.

He didn’t just plant any seed.  He took a mustard seed and he planted it. He was not looking for an olive tree to grow in that space or a raspberry bush – but a mustard tree. He wanted a mustard tree – not an apple tree or a date palm.  So he planted a mustard seed.

There is a whole thing about how small it was and how big the tree turned out to be – but he had to plant the seed to get the tree.

Last year, this time last year, I planted a whole load of bulbs. Incidentally it might interest you to know that once upon a long time ago I mistook a daffodil bulb for an onion.  I was in the process of chopping the “onion” up to add to the frying pan when the smell and the stickiness of the “onion” was so unfamiliar to me that I realised my mistake before I tossed it to into the pan.  Spring was greeted with daffodils, tulips and crocuses. Without the planting spring would have meant dandelions and buttercups, which nice as they are, sometimes, were not what I wanted.

My dad had an allotment.  A field on the outskirts of the village was given over to allotments.  The council, perhaps, had done a dig over, divided it into strips and rented them out for measly sums.  There was a long waiting list. Each strip needed a proper going over to get rid of the big stones and the clumps of turned-over grass and weeds.  Once ready, soil worked to a breadcrumb consistency, my dad planted vegetables.  He did not expect a neat row of carrots to simply appear.  He planted stuff.  He planted everything at once and months later we harvested everything at once. We didn’t have a freezer and took bags of goodies to church to hand out to people.  For a few short months were had lots of vegetables.

As Christians I think we all long for vibrant lives.  Many of us settle for something mediocre.  We are almost content with the spiritual dandelions and buttercups that come our way.  But we don’t consciously take a seed – of love, or mercy, or joy or patience – and deliberately plant it.

We listen to a sermon or make copious notes from Bible study notes but we don’t deliberately select an aspect of the character of God we want to see in our lives and plant the seed of it.  We just hope that it will happen somehow.

How do we become an intentional seed planters?

By knowing that we need to be.  Waiting for a tulip to appear when we know we never planted the bulb is a waste of time. Tulips don’t work that way. Or onions or carrots.  Or love or compassion – the really powerful variety!

By knowing what we want to see in the garden of our lives.  We need a vision of what God intends us to be. The man who planted the mustard seed had a picture in his mind’s eye of the fully grown tree.

By taking the seeds and planting them.  Seeds need to be pushed deep into the soil.  Lying a tulip bulb n top of the soil will not get us the tulip in the spring. There it shrivels in the sun or rots in the rain. It needs to be buried deep down. We need to plant our spiritual seeds deep, digging down into our heart.

God has all the seeds of His character we will ever need but leaves the planting of them up to us.

I want my mustard tree and I have the mustard seed in my hand.  It’s time to plant it.

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