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.