After the Seed Is Planted
- 2009 18 May
May 18, 2009
Spring inspires visions of gardening, with a crop of fresh produce. Before we plant, we clear the brush, prepare the soil, and fertilize it. We check calendars to assure we’re planting at the right time – neither too early nor too late. After the seed is planted, we water and perhaps fertilize some more. Then we wait. The seed must germinate before it sprouts. There is nothing more we can do to force that seed to sprout; that’s God’s job, not ours. If we overfertilize in our impatience to see sprouts, the plant may look good when it sprouts but burn up from getting too many nutrients too quickly. If we overwater the seeds, they could rot before they ever germinate.
Jesus told us in the parable of the sower what happens when seeds hit the path, the rocky ground, and thorns. Fortunately, some seeds land in good soil and bear fruit.
Parents are sowers as we teach our children. As someone whose seed was first sown in rocky, thorny soil, I swore to do better by my own children. They would have fertile soil.
My challenge in teaching my children is overworking the garden. I can become so afraid of leaving a gap in their education that I overplant, overwater, and try to play God. The seeds that we plant in children’s hearts must sometimes be given time and space so the Holy Spirit can help them germinate.
In the book, The Simple Faith of Mr. Rogers, Fred Rogers describes a space between his television show and the viewer, which he called holy ground. He said many times, he gave a simple message that the Holy Spirit used in the “holy ground” of viewers’ hearts to teach and inspire them. It was not so much what his message was as what the Holy Spirit did with it.
Mr. Rogers prayed each day that he worked, as he opened the door, that God would use him to touch someone’s life. Then, in a gentle world of play and make believe, he told us stories and taught us great truths about human dignity and caring. His make believe world had room for fun, songs, and games. Core to Mr. Rogers’ philosophy was a central premise: “Parents are the most important people in children's lives; they are the premiere models and the final arbiters of a family's values.”
As I teach and parent my children who are now teens, I must remember to honor that “holy ground” between my children’s hearts and lessons I teach. If I back off and wait for God to work in their hearts, the seeds will sprout without being smothered.
Part of my backing off also requires that I give them space to make mistakes. We learn by doing. Sometimes, we learn best by doing something badly and then learning from our mistakes. So do our children.
As I step back from tilling the garden of my children’s hearts, I can turn attention to my own garden bed. While their seeds germinate, I have time to do dishes, hang laundry, and clear the timber from my own eye instead of the speck in theirs. There are still seeds in my own heart, waiting to blossom, if I will only clear debris and nurture my soul.
With the germination of my own seeds, there comes a dying of past sorrows, crutches, and distractions. But with that dying, plants will grow, and new fruit will be born.
If my children can see me doing that with my own heart and relationship with the Lord, I will have taught them a lesson more valuable than the world’s finest, most expensive lesson plan or school ever could.
“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” – John 12:24
Published on May 18, 2009
Copyright 2009 by Mary Biever. All rights reserved. Permission must be granted for reproduction or use in publication.