A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
The retired pastor of one of the huge Buckhead congregations lived next door to the church in their parsonage. He told me that when he first arrived, the congregation arranged to take care of his lawn. When they cleaned up the church property, they’d also cut his grass and trim the bushes. It made sense, but he declined their offer.
For decades he cut his own grass. Not with an electric or gas powered mower, but with a rotary mower. He said that he found great satisfaction and peace by mowing the lawn. In most of his ministry, he could never see the results. But when he cut the grass, he could look at what he’d done and see the difference. Quickly. And obviously.
These virus times have been a bit like Matthew’s parable of the sower. We spread the seeds.
From a distance, we write cards and emails and make phone calls. We worship on Sundays even when there isn’t a visible congregation. We preach, sing, pray, play instruments, and read lessons into the tiny cameras on our phones. We pray for those we love. We ZOOM until we can ZOOM no more.
Are these efforts to love our neighbor and spread the gospel falling on the fertile soil and making a difference in someone’s life? Or are they falling on rocky soil or scarfed up by a hungry bird? It’s so hard to tell now. We so often don’t hear back. We can’t see. We just don’t know. Like the sower, we have to trust in God. We have to sow the seeds with all the energy we can muster, and then trust that God will take those seeds and turn them into something incredible, even if we can’t see the results.
Dear and gracious God. Help us to trust that you will take our efforts, multiply them, magnify them, and use all of them to your glory—especially now when we need you. Amen.