As a military family, we have had the opportunity to live in many places around the U.S. and even the world. When we move into a new house in yet another town this summer, we will have reached one dozen places we’ve called home in the last 17 years. While the adventures and relationships we’ve developed have been many and enjoyable, there are certainly drawbacks to this transient lifestyle. One of them is the simple fact we rarely get to watch things grow.
Everyone in my family loves things that grow, and every place we go we plant seeds and/or young plants and trees, hoping against hope to get to enjoy blossoms, fruit and lush greenery. However, we pack up and leave when the Air Force tells us to, and that’s inevitably before the raspberries yield, the trees take root or the veggies get big enough to eat. We go through the same ritual every time, and every time the result is the same – a feeling of disappointment that we have, yet again, sowed in vain. However futile as it may seem, I know when we arrive at our next home, we will sow seeds, plant flowers and hang on to optimism that we will see results.
Our Christian life – whether sharing the Gospel with others, trying to raise our children to know and love the Lord, or making a positive impact on the people we encounter – is very much the same as my family’s gardening life. We do the work of sowing seeds, often not knowing if or when any growth will take place. As much as we want every seed to be a bean plant that will sprout in a day in mere damp paper towel, we don’t have any idea what kind of seed we’re sowing or how long it will take to sprout. Sometimes there are immediate results, which is very satisfying to our impatience; but much of the time, even most of the time, we don’t see results for weeks, months, years, or ever.
The truth is, we need faith the goodness and sovereignty of God to fuel our efforts and hope. There’s a reason God chose to use the analogy of sowing seeds and so many other agricultural references in the Bible – because even the sowing and successful growing of physical seeds into useful and beautiful plants and trees is wholly dependent upon God. Spiritually, we are called to sow, and in some cases water, but God gives the growth (1 Cor 3:6) – and in his timing.
Just as our sowing and planting as a military family is not in vain because, one, we enjoy it, and two, those who have moved in after us have undoubtedly enjoyed the fruit of labor, our spiritual sowing, watering and waiting is not in vain even if we don’t see immediate or even Earthly results. We have to remember that it’s God who gives the growth. Paul the Apostle encourages us in Galatians 6:9-10, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially those who are of the household of faith.”