Seeds, Soils and Rejoicing in Slow Growth

Originally published Wednesday, 12 September 2012.

It was about a month ago that I decided to try my hand at planting seeds. I haven't had much luck growing anything from seed, but I decided, once again, that maybe this time might be different. A month later, and I see little growth in my little cilantro seedlings. I don't know if they will sprout or not, but this exercise is teaching me something in patience and letting nature do its work.

Growth takes time. Roots must grow before the leaves can show and I can celebrate that the experiment is working. It's a vital time where too much well-intentioned watering can kill the seed before it even had a chance to flourish in the soil. We must be patient to let the seed settle in and not expect it to sprout up overnight, lush with stalk and leaf and ripe fruit. We must allow time to tend the process.

This was one of the things that was such an encouragement to me early in my faith, when I found myself upset or discouraged about how long this process of sanctification was taking, though I didn't even know that was the word for it at the time.

I remember wishing I could have it together already, know the Bible already, hear the Holy Spirit crystal-clear already. What was taking so long?!

And then I read the parable of the soils:

"A farmer went out to plant his seed. While he was planting, some seed fell by the road. People walked on the seed, and the birds ate it up. Some seed fell on rock, and when it began to grow, it died because it had no water. Some seed fell among thorny weeds, but the weeds grew up with it and choked the good plants. And some seed fell on good ground and grew and made a hundred times more.

.... "This is what the story means: The seed is God's message. The seed that fell beside the road is like the people who hear God's teaching, but the devil comes and takes it away from them so they cannot believe it and be saved. The seed that fell on rock is like those who hear God's teaching and accept it gladly, but they don't allow the teaching to go deep into their lives. They believe for a while, but when trouble comes, they give up. The seed that fell among the thorny weeds is like those who hear God's teaching, but they let the worries, riches, and pleasures of this life keep them from growing and producing good fruit. And the seed that fell on the good ground is like those who hear God's teaching with good, honest hearts and obey it and patiently produce good fruit." (Luke 8:5-15)

As I read that, I realized that it takes time for the seed to sprout and grow. It can not spring up too quickly or it will not have root—like those where the seed fell onto rock. But if we are rooted, then when the rains and rays and wrath of nature beats against us, we can withstand it and hold fast to our budding faith.

The Lord reveals one thing at a time to us. He walks us through it, instead of pushing us to a break-neck speed. And because we've moved through it slowly and completely, eyes-wide-open and able to savor it more fully, the depth of growth is that much more. We may not realize it from the looks of it above ground, where the leaves are spindly and branches limp, but below ground—where the growth matters—the roots are digging deeper and grasping hard to the spiritual sod that God has lovingly laid down.

As I mulled over this little gardening metaphor, the reality of it hit me more fully: Slow growth is often for our own good! This was an epiphany of epic proportions for me at a time, and one that I held fast to when perfectionism threatened to hurl insults and accusations at me.
And now, a few years later, I still look back at this insight—truly a gift from the Holy Spirit—with marvel. It touched my heart then, and it still does today, as it reminds me to breathe deeply, embrace these moments, these lessons, this blessings—these blessons—and keep sowing, digging and growing with patience.

Carmen writes the blog, Life Blessons, which provides an intimate look into her life as a twentysomething woman as she details her experiences learning how to live out her faith, enjoy the simple things in life and be the woman God created to her to be. Along the way, she shares the blessings and lessons that are a part of this journey, the things she likes to call her "blessons."

Feel free to learn more at her blog, Life Blessons.

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