Friday, March 25, 2011

Why this preacher needs to do more yard work

I’m as faithless as they come. Really I am. Case in point…

After living in my house for five years and never doing diddly to the yard, I decided that this year I needed to take action. So, a few weeks ago I went to Lowe’s to pick up some fertilizer and grass seed. I had a chat with the young woman at the store and told her that I wasn’t messing around, I was serious about growing grass. She pointed me toward the most expensive grass seed on their shelves -- the kind that is 99.9% pure and has some fancy-schmancy thing done to the shell so that it retains water longer than any other seed. I had to have it.

I worked on my yard for a couple of days and threw grass seed all over the place. I watered it. On the bag it said that I could expect grass to appear in 6 to 14 days. So, I started examining my yard every morning, beginning at day 2. By day 13 I had come to believe that I had been had by the woman at Lowe’s. These things weren’t going to grow. They just sat there decorating the dirt like the dust on my bedside table. When I bent down close, I could swear I heard them laughing at me.

I was mad, mad, mad! And I was preparing to march myself into Lowe’s with receipt in hand to demand my money back. I was absolutely convinced those god-awful-expensive seeds were duds.

Then, lo and behold! This morning I was completely surprised to see needle-thin blades of grass popping up out of the soil like whiskers on the face of a 13-year-old boy three days after his first shave. What a glorious sight! Now, you may be thinking, “Well, duh, Nancy, you should have expected grass where you planted grass seed.” But somewhere in the midst of waiting for those seeds to grow, I became convinced that this time it wasn’t going to happen. I know it sounds crazy, but I really did.

Well, guess what? Those seeds didn’t need me to believe in them before they would grow. In spite of the fact that I was convinced all my efforts had been futile, they grew.

Now the “Parable of the Sower” has grabbed hold of me and won’t let go. You know, it's the one about the sower who scattered seed in the rocky soil and along the path and in the thorns and, of course, some actually made it into the fertile soil. It was only the seed planted in the fertile soil that stood a chance and, in the end, it produced 100 times what you would expect. This meant that, despite the fact that the seed didn’t do squat in most of the places it landed, the bumper crop in the fertile soil more than made up for it.

The story should really be called the “Parable of the Seeds” because it doesn’t tell us very much about the sower. We don’t know anything about what he believed or how well-versed he was in the scriptures. We do know that he wasn’t very well-versed in the finer points of agricultural engineering because he wasted most of the seed by throwing it where it stood absolutely no chance of growing. But neither his lack of faith nor his lack of skill mattered. All the sower needed to do was throw the seed around. God did the growing.

I take great comfort in this truth. As someone who preaches God’s Word on a regular basis, I am just about as faithless as they come. I scatter the seeds on a Sunday morning and can’t imagine that they’ll produce anything more than a bunch of dead seeds laughing at me in the pews after everyone has gone home. But my lack of faith is irrelevant. God is gonna do what God is gonnna do. And I continue to be surprised by what God does. It’s happened so often that I’ve come to trust in it, despite my faithlessness.

The words of Isaiah 55 continue to ring true:
10For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

God grows them; I just sow them. I need to be reminded of that. That's why it's a good idea for a faithless preacher like me to plant grass seed every once in a while.

1 comment:

Stacy said...

As always, so good. So true.