There was a particular line in the Gospel that you could easily miss:
A man scatters “seed on the land” and sleeps and rises,
“and through it all the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how.”
Did you hear that? “He knows not how.”
Perhaps you say, but we do know; we know how to prepare the ground;
we know what kind of seed to plant, how to fertilize it and when;
and we know when to harvest.
The point Jesus is really making
is that the process of growth happens in its own way and own time.
No matter what we think or want, we aren’t in control.
We plant the seed, and then we wait.
This is one of the hardest lessons to learn in life,
and the most necessary:
recognizing what we can do, and what we cannot.
The farmer isn’t in control, but he is not passive.
We have a role to play – focus on that.
There are about 200 people in this church right now,
And if I were to ask for a show of hands,
I think I’d see most of them go up on this question:
Have you ever thought of ways that the world – or this country –
or our Church – or your place of work –
would be better? If only they did what you suggested?
Of course you have. It’s what we do.
“If only the Reds would do this and this…”
“If only the Pope…” If only, if only.
How’s that working out? They never call me!
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying we shouldn’t give input.
You’ve heard me ask many times for your feedback and suggestions.
I value it. And even if Congress and the President don’t want it,
they need it, and it’s our duty as citizens to give it.
Rather, my point is that like the farmer, we can vote, we can speak up,
we can give what we give,
but in the end, the outcome will be beyond our control.
And the point Jesus is making is that the working out of his Kingdom –
the salvation of souls and the transformation of society –
Will surely and certainly come, but not as we wish or can even imagine:
We know not how.
That requires patience.
That requires humility.
And that is the challenge of hope,
because hope isn’t about what we see,
but on the contrary, hope is when we can’t see.
So if there’s something that has you worried:
The pope, the President, the direction of the country;
Your company, your family…
Jesus says: prepare the ground; plant the seed.
Pray; work. Sleep and rise.
It will sprout and grow of its own accord; you know not how.
Then sometimes you and I are the seed.
God plants us. We don’t know what’s going on.
“What am I doing here? It’s dark! Wait, now it’s wet!
Oh, I don’t like that; I don’t want to be wet; I’m wet all over!
“Wait – what’s that? What is that? Oh, that smells really bad!
What is God doing to me?
“Oh now I’m moving; I’m going somewhere.
And I was just getting used to that place;
but now, I’m getting pushed up somewhere.
Oh, it’s bright, bright, too bright, oohhhh! Ow!”
And so it goes.
There is a plan. You and I have a part to play;
and the difference you and I can make,
both in being the seed God plants,
and in the seeds we plant,
can be tremendous once we accept the fact
that God’s work will happen, though we know not how.