Anyone who plants a garden or even tries to grow a few vegetables knows the difference between sowing and growing. I cannot make the seed grow. The germination and growth of any seed is contained within. All I can do is activate that which is already within by watering it to initiate its germination and then by giving it a good environment to nurture and sustain it’s growth. Raising young Christians is not much different.
In the world’s longest running musical, “The Fantasticks,” two fathers, both of whom are gardeners, sing of the foibles and frustrations of raising children by comparing the task to growing vegetables. “Plant a carrot get a carrot, never any doubt. That’s why I love vegetables, you know what you’re about. While with children, it’s bewilderin’. You don’t know until the seed is nearly grown…. just what you’ve sown!” What’s a parent to do? Sowing and Growing are two very different things.
Even though sowing vegetable seeds might be predictable, their growth – and especially bearing fruit – are not automatic. That is why the parable of the sower is so appropriate. Farmers tend to be faith-filled people because they know who provides the sunshine and, where there is no irrigation, the water but they don’t sit back and do nothing. They till the soil so the roots can breathe. They rotate the crops so nutrients will replenish. They fertilize the plants to help them grow big and strong. In short, they provide tender loving care to augment God’s work.
When we sow the seeds of faith it is God who provides the growth but, like the farmer, the soil and the seed need to be nurtured with tender loving care. Who does that? We do. Each of us has something to offer the community of Faith to which we belong. Each of us has an encouraging word, a smile, a sign of peace for our fellow Christians to keep the seed of Faith ever growing in our hearts. As Sowers, we must nurture with TLC but the True Grower is Almighty God.