One of the great blessings in life is to discover that a seed of hope, of faith, of encouragement or of truth rarely reveals its outcome until much later than we might think.
Because we live in such an “instant” culture where Google can generate 3 1/2 million responses to one inquiry in .27 seconds, we may tend to think that a seed that we plant here or there in the life of someone else somehow failed to take root because we don’t see an overnight change.
However, wise seed planters understand that the Lord our God is the only one who can determine how long some seeds may lay dormant.
Just recently I had one such experience. I was speaking at a local event here in Pittsburgh, sharing some lessons learned in my spiritual journey with a group with whom I am just becoming acquainted.
Before we were seated, a young man came up to me who looked familiar but I wasn’t able to recall how I remembered this very polite and professional looking young man.
He went on to remind me of his name and briefly recounted a story that had completely left my memory banks. Several years ago, this same young man was a college student in our area who was visiting North Way on a fairly regular basis but was having difficulty in reconciling some of his questions about God with an internal sense that something was missing in his life.
He reminded me of a book that I was pleased to give him. The book was written by a pastor and theologian for whom I have a great deal of respect by the name of Tim Keller. His book, “The Reason For God” is an excellent tool to pass along to someone who is sincerely seeking to understand how God works in individual lives in a way that recognizes the fact that thinking people have very sincere questions such as, “Is there just one true religion?” or “How could a good God allow suffering?” etc.
This was a number of years ago so I’ll be candid and say I don’t recall that we made a follow up appointment or if we simply said that when this guy finished the book he would contact me. What I did discover at this very recent event was that the Spirit of God used the wisdom of that book along with the searching heart of an honest seeker to bring him to personal faith in Christ. His face was visibly expressive of the inner joy that he had discovered as he had been growing in relationship with the Savior.
He went on to tell me that he had recently taken a new position with a very well known consulting firm in our area and was putting down his roots in this Christian organization along with his local church.
What a great moment that was for me! In all honesty, I had simply done what any well intended follower of Jesus would do for someone who had sincere questions. I did my best to answer them but also recognized that there were other resources that might be helpful in guiding him into the light of faith.
We had little time on that day to share what other things are going on in his life (I do hope to be able to circle around and connect with him in the coming weeks) however, that exchange was such a vivid reminder to me that everyone of us who is willing to invest in another life, even if it’s just for a conversation, let alone a friendship that covers weeks, months or even years of exchanges, these seeds that we plant do not return void.
“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11
I came away from that exchange rejoicing in what God had done in the life of one particular person. I was also nudged by the Holy Spirit, once again, to never stop sowing seeds into the lives of others. I’m not sure if this is unique to me, but I too often find it to be “easier” to think that someone else will take up that opportunity even when I know the Lord is clearly opening the door.
Seed planting is for everyone. It can be done in a myriad of ways but almost always comes about when we follow the promptings of God’s Spirit and act on them in a personal exchange. These are the times, those are the people, that one day reappear in our lives to recount the way that God led them on their spiritual journey to discover their purpose in life and their eternal destiny in God’s kingdom.
So keep planting those seeds, friends. Every time you have the opportunity, do so with sensitivity, strength and love; then allow God to cause that seed to take route and grow into a wonderful, healthy follower of the Lord!