Terry R Baughman is Lead Pastor for LifeChurch in Gilbert, AZ. See his complete bio at trbaughman.com
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PREPARING FOR THE HARVEST
Terry R. Baughman
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. … For we are God’s fellow workers” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7, 9).
Anyone who has planted a garden or even stuck a bean in a pot of potting soil had this experience, watching and watering dirt. The seeds are covered. The dirt is carefully raked over the shallow grave where the seed will perish and never be seen again. For the beginner learning the principles of agriculture and horticulture this period of time after the planting is the most anxious. Some may question: “Will it grow?” “How long should I wait?” “Is the seed viable?” “Will I ever see anything grow from this dirt?”
Watering dirt may seem like a futile task. After all, it is just dirt. The sun shines on it and drys out the water that was carefully applied earlier. As the dirt drys it needs more water, but not too much water. Again, the questions: “How much water is enough?” “How much water is too much?”
So, the gardener learns to believe in the process. Preparation of the soil is important and may take some time. Planting can be done quickly, but the next stage is the most difficult. Water and wait. Water and wait.
In each of the synoptic gospels the parable of the sower is repeated. Jesus shared the parable and the interpretation with His disciples. The focus was on the different types of soil and their ability to produce growth of the seed. Some soils were shallow and rocky and could not retain sufficient water, so the tender new plant withered and died in the hot sun. Other seeds fell on the unprepared soil of the harden footpath. There was no place to root so no growth took place. Perhaps birds picked up the uncovered seed to supplement their diet. Among the thorns there was no place for a small plant to survive and increase was dwarfed. It was only in the good soil that growth and harvest took place.
There is no problem with the seed. Jesus said the seed is the Word of God. It is good seed and it will bring forth in its season. When the soil is prepared and the seed is sown all we need to do is … water and wait!
Jesus spoke of the seed as that which dies in the dirt. He said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:24). The death of the seed is as important to the harvest as the growth of the new plant. The dying seed is absorbed into the emerging life of a resurrected in a living plant. The water is vital to the process. Water provides the moisture that softens the outer shell and brings life to the tiny kernel that hold the destiny of a new life within it.
Some of our efforts seem pointless, even wasted. We water and we see nothing happening on the surface. Yet we water in faith, believing for the eventual evidence of life that shall emerge from the dampened soil.
We pour into the lives of others in anticipation of growth and fruitfulness. Sometimes we wait and wonder if the fruitful season will ever come, but that is not our responsibility. We plant. We water. God gives the increase. We stare in faith at barren soil, but we labor in hope that something good will result from our efforts. We are workers together with God. We do our part and rest in faith that He will complete what He has started out to do.
Keep pouring into the lives of others. We never know when new life from the seed is going to emerge and growth will begin to spring up. Until then, keep on watering dirt!
“Neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:7).