Monday, March 14, 2011

Watering Seeds and Waiting for Fruit

Ecclesiastes 11:6  In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

1 Corinthians 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

I'm ok sowing seeds. I don't mind watering them. But I don't have much tolerance for the wait for growth or the ultimate goal – fruit. And nowhere is this more obvious than raising my children. I've written a couple articles on parenting recently (here and here) on principles that are becoming more and more important to me the further I get into this daunting, winding, sometimes very poorly illuminated road called parenting. Here's the new one God is applying in my heart – sowing and reaping.

I know as a novice gardener that a beautiful, fruitful garden takes time and effort. And I've gotten the effort part with my children. I know that lazy parenting is sin. I must stay engaged. I must sow seeds. I must water and fertilize. It's the time part that is just starting to dawn on me. I don't mind putting in the effort with my kids … as long as I see the results. Today. But so help me, if I don't see results within 10 minutes or an hour, or if I'm really being patient, by the time I put them to bed, I'm pretty frustrated. What was the point of all that meaningful engagement with my children? I'm working hard to disciple them, to teach them truth and help them apply it. I'm working hard to expose them to the gospel, both in my words and my actions. But then I put them to bed and they seem in exactly the same condition with the same attitudes (often angry at each other, generally unthankful, or complaining about the day ahead) that started off our day.

Even though I know better, it's very hard to believe any sowing, watering, or fertilizing I did through the day was meaningful if I don't get fruit immediately. But I KNOW that is not the nature of fruit. That's not how gardening works. And occasionally, the Lord lets me see how it really works.

My oldest loves to make projects. He thinks about them in his head for a while, then gets to work with a definite plan. It's a great strength of his. And it's a great weakness, for he loves his projects very much and woe to the one who interferes with or, gasp, accidentally trips over a project, as little brothers are prone to do. We've been working on loving people more than our projects. We can enjoy our projects, but we have to keep them in perspective. The most important thing is loving God. Then it's loving others. And projects are good and fun when they come under those first two.

Well, I've been trying to communicate that for over a year. But it's just been the last few weeks that out of the blue, my oldest will offer from the back seat of the car, “Mom, I love you more than my guinea pig roller coaster.” Don't laugh. That's my world—guinea pig roller coasters, tiny ant toilets, and so forth. My 6 year old is an entertaining piece of work.

In that moment in my car, I tasted sweet fruit. “Honey, I love you more than my computer,” I responded. I feel a need to tell him that regularly because I am on my computer a lot. And there it is, a tiny sprout poking its head out of the dirt after months of seed-sowing, dirt-watering effort.

I am becoming more at peace with sowing and not so upset when I don't get to reap. Fruit will come. But it's not likely to be today. And I don't need to keep watering and fertilizing on an issue non stop until I see fruit. That will drown a seed. It's OK to sow a seed, water a little, and walk away. After all, any fruit is a result of God's light causing the growth. So I stand back and wait for Him to work. At peace in the waiting.

13 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this! I love the drowning piece at the end too because that is what I tend to do- I want to be acknowledged that the message got through, and will repeat over and over until I feel it was- it is so hard to let the Holy Spirit do the work!

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  2. So timely today! As a writer, my life seems consumed with waiting for agents, publishers, etc. I wonder where the fruit is! I love this verse because we need to sow seed--broadly--in various forms. Some of us forget that step! www.livewithflair.blogspot.com

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  3. I like how you think and process. :o)
    I laughed about the guinea pig comment. I am loved more then my guys bike and kinex. And our projects are all centered around recycled things right now.

    this quote struck me:

    "And I don't need to keep watering and fertilizing on an issue non stop until I see fruit. That will drown a seed. It's OK to sow a seed, water a little, and walk away."

    My oldest is really struggling in some areas and I tend to over analyze it and try to make sense of it too much....I don't want to drown it/her. Thanks!

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  4. I must confess that just the phrase "guinea pig roller coaster" sounds charming. I hope that actual guinea pigs don't find it traumatizing. :)

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  5. Thank you this was very helpful.
    I tend to flit from one to the other - effort & patience. If I am patient I can get lazy and if I up the effort level I can think it is all about my doing and loose perspective. A constant balancing act!!

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  6. It is the hardest with the firstborn. Our firstborn is 5. He is wonderful and I so badly want him to thrive and to exhibit all of the fruit that I sow for and hope for, especially with little brothers and sisters in the wings, watching. It is so hard as his mother to see his own struggle in sin yet not want to turn to Jesus. And I see the pattern of firstborn rebellion as typical in the scriptures, and I just keep clinging to the Lord and asking for His mercy, His grace, and His energy and His help.

    Sam Stormes preached once that grace is a narrow path with legalism on a steep dropoff one way and license on the other side. This is so true in parenting. Our only hope is to walk in the Spirit.

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  7. So true Wendy. I find it easy to forget that habits and patterns take time to form and that fruit will take time in our children. Bless you for the reminder.
    Kath

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  8. Thanks, all, for the encouraging feedback!

    WtH, the fixation on guinea pigs is a result of watching G-Force, the movie with Zach Galifinakis about special agent spy guinea pigs. What 6 year old could resist that?! He's got several contraptions taped to walls in our house that are guinea pig themed.

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  9. I think that the seed analogy spills over into all avenues of our lives. My children are grown and I have wonderful, amazing, clever, smart grandchildren.

    All my children are Christians. Sadly at this time only one is continuing on with Jesus. One is in a cult. The others say that they no longer believe.

    I cling to the hope that Jesus will turn their faces back towards HIM.

    So it is not only when children are small are their parenting issues. Being a parent of adult children is equally fraught with challenges.

    I admire you all as you walk HIS path. And yes, your children are HIS and He will see them through to the end. As HE has promised.

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  10. Your post matches a poem I wrote a while back!

    http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2008/08/mothers-seeds.html

    A Mother’s Seeds
    by Virginia Knowles

    A mother sows seeds
    Sows in hearts softened by sweet nurture
    Seeds of myriad sizes, shapes, and sorts:
    Truth, mercy, faith, repentance, salvation
    Wisdom, praise, discipline, responsibility
    Love, joy, peace
    Here a seed, there a seed, everywhere a soul seed

    No mother is purely saint, saintly pure
    So subtle weed seeds slip from her packet too:
    Bitterness, pride, impatience, sloth, doubt, scorn, fear
    She may wisely snatch them up again right away
    Before harm takes root in tender spirits
    But some sink in and grow in spite
    Later to be plucked out, or not

    Yet she seeks to sow good seed in good soil
    Not for the pleasure of plowing, digging. straining
    Staining hands and knees with clay
    Casting bloodied thorns and stubborn stones aside
    Not for these trials she toils, bowed low
    But for the hope, for the promise of the soul seed’s sole purpose:
    Oh, for the fruit!

    Working, watering, worrying, weeping, watching, waiting. wondering:
    Will these tiny seeds fulfill destiny
    First with green stem and fragrant blossom, and then fruit at last?
    Or will they lie lifeless underground or shriveled on dry crust of earth?
    Oh, did one, even just one, take root deeper and deeper in the divine deep?
    Anchored by a sturdy, centering, downward shaft
    With fragile spreading threads tangled outward, seeking sustenance?

    Oh, for the fruit of those roots unseen!
    So: more seeds! Sow more seeds! Sow and sow again!
    Lord, make them grow!
    For a mother must be faithful but He alone can bring forth fruit!
    (Soli Deo Gloria! Gloria in Excelsis Deo!)
    His fruit is sweet and succulent, swelling with more seeds
    Later to be scattered far beyond her own field, season after season

    Nations and generations shall witness her seeds and His fruit
    Fruit from seed, and seed from fruit
    From her home to His uttermost gardens
    From her time to His eternity
    For a mother’s heart sows well beyond her own wee plot
    She mothers young and old, neighbor and sojourner
    Her reach is far and deep, patient and persistent

    Any seeking soul becomes her soil
    She meets needs with diligent deeds
    Bathes each one in warming rays of kindness and prayer
    A mother’s heart sows these seeds then
    Waters, works, watches, waits, wonders again and again
    By faith, hope, and love, she reaps abundant harvests
    When goodly, godly fruit is ripe at last!

    (I have another seed poem here -
    http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2010/11/between-seed-and-tree.html)

    Blessings,
    Virginia

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  11. I love Charles Stanley's 30 life principles, including this one you talk about here - 'You reap what you sow, more than you sow, and later than you sow.'(likely from Gal 6:7-9). What an incredibly vital and influential role, motherhood!

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  12. Thanks for this - I'm sure many women will relate.
    Someone sent me a wonderful email on this subject which I posted on my blog yesterday - it too elicited a heart felt response.
    There are a lot of hurting mom's out there, feeling a roller coaster of emotions in their mom-ing.

    Link: www.alliechilling.blogspot.com/2011/03/mom-the-builder.html

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  13. (though late on my response...)
    thank you for this! i have a stepson, kj, whose birth mom left him at the age of 1. his dad raised him alone (with the help of his parents) until we met when kj was 3. i've been the "mom" he's known since & even tho his bio mom came back a year or so ago, he still considers me as the mom... i struggle so much in the issue of "patience" bec while battling the transition/changes with visitation etc and kj started acting out... it was very challenging for all of us! it felt like he had forgotten everything he's learned about loving others and God and appreciation etc...

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