I love to plant seeds. It’s my favorite part of gardening, and I love to garden. I’m constantly amazed that such a small, seemingly lifeless bit of matter can grow into broccoli, marigolds, or zinnias. A quick trip to the garden center would give me instant gratification. I can buy seedlings already well on their way to maturity. I prefer to exercise faith that the seeds will germinate and grow, and eventually produce a crop. And it takes a lot of faith to garden in Colorado.
I’m also a seed planter when it comes to sharing my faith. It’s not as glamorous as harvesting—I can’t name a single person I’ve actually prayed with to receive Jesus. But I can name a number of those who eventually believed, after I was privileged to plant some seeds of faith in the soil of their lives.
I didn’t always realize that I was fulfilling the role God had for me. Every time I heard a sermon or read a book about evangelism, I felt inadequate. Clearly, I was a failure. God wasn’t using me; I must not be spiritual enough, or maybe I hadn’t had enough training. Maybe the problem was my introverted personality. But whatever the problem was, it was a problem. It wasn’t until years later that someone pointed out that Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3, about how one plants and another waters and God causes the growth, applied to me!
Realizing that we each have our gifts and calling takes a lot of the pressure off. God causes the growth. It’s His ministry, and we need to leave the results in His hands. In fact, in the case of some of the most fruitful seeds, at the time I didn’t even realize I was sowing them! I was simply doing what God had asked me to do.
There’s so much talk in the church today about being significant, producing fruit, finding our purpose, and accomplishing great things for God. That’s all well and good—but what if I never figure out my purpose? What if I never seem to accomplish anything extraordinary? What if I diligently follow His leading, yet have no clue to how God is using me?
When Pete was in the hospital after being hit by a speeding car (back in 1997), he had a lot of time to think. At that point, his extensive injuries meant that he had no use of the left side of his body. Lying in bed, he began to realize that, while God had spared his life, he might still end up paralyzed, or perhaps severely disabled in some other way. What if he wasn’t able to do anything anymore? Like those servants who merely stand in the hallway in case they’re ever needed, was he willing for God to have him sit idle for the rest of his life?
God healed Pete, and he’s once more busy doing all sorts of things. But not everyone is healed, able to be productive. Are they without value because we can’t see their accomplishments for the kingdom?
Then there’s the issue of time. Consider our lives in light of eternity. God has plans spanning thousands of years. Maybe our job is one tiny blip in those plans. Is that all right with us? Do we need to see the end from the beginning, or are we content to be part of the middle? We may never understand our place in the grand scheme of things, but that’s okay. We don’t really need to. We just need to obey what He asks us to do, and leave the big picture up to him.
It’s good to know God’s purpose in our creation, if He should choose to reveal it. It’s lovely to see results from our efforts, fruit from our obedience. It’s certainly a boost to my ego when I realize that God is using little old me! But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that sort of thing doesn’t happen so much anymore. It’s not that God isn’t using me—it’s that he doesn’t bother to enlighten me about the how and why.
When I was a young believer, if some of my seeds bore fruit, God made sure I found out about it. Now I usually have to take it on faith—I never know if my seeds sprouted, or merely fell on rocky ground. Of course I hope that they produce a hundredfold, but I don’t need to see the results to stay encouraged. Whether they grow or not, I don’t intend to stop planting them. After all, God made me a sower.