11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” Luke 8:11-15
What does a seed need to sprout? Pfft, that’s easy! I remember learning this important concept in early elementary school with the lima bean seed experiment. Remember? Our teachers would hand each of us our supplies: a small, clear plastic cup, two pale lima beans and just enough soil to fill the cup about half way. Each student would carefully bury their seed in the soil, pour an adequate amount of water into the cup and select a spot for it to sit in a well-lit window sill. Within days, our lima beans would take root and start growing towards the sun. All the seeds needed to grow strong and tall was a fitting location, sunlight and water.
In a lot of ways, this seed experiment is strikingly similar to how a strong foundation in Jesus Christ is built. It starts with a seed. This seed can be a thought, first church service, an old bible parable we hear being read by our parents as a bedtime story. Or maybe a trying time in our lives that forces us to seek a means of comfort and peace or a situation that leaves us searching for a way to regain hope. Even a breath taking view could leave a non-believer thinking “Someone had to create this masterpiece!”, thus planting a seed of faith in your heart. Whatever it was for you, big or small, there was something that initiated your faith in God. This faith is your seed. But much like the lima bean it needs to have the appropriate conditions to extend its roots and grow tall.
You wouldn’t plant your seeds without any soil would you? Would you plant your two lima beans in beach sand? Or clay? Would you place them on cement and expect them to flourish? Absolutely not! Soil is a necessity for the lima beans’ roots to tunnel through and soak up the nutrients. The soil stabilizes the seeds so that the roots may stretch and thicken into a strong, firm groundwork. Our environment is the equivalent of soil to a seed for those who have this “seed” of faith. Surrounding ourselves with supportive friends and family to engage in fellowship with is essential to constructing the bedrock of our faith. Attending church is also incredibly helpful in making our conditions ideal for growing our faith. Now this seed of faith has grown into a seedling.
After the seeds are planted firmly and safely where they should be, you need to find a well-lit spot that will provide enough sunlight exposure. The seedling uses sunlight to go through an important process called photosynthesis, which makes the light energy from the sun’s rays into chemical energy. Photosynthesis of a plant is comparable to the maturation of our relationship with God through prayer. Prayer can seem intimidating; you’re talking to the creator of the universe right? Well that’s one of the amazing things about God, He has the capacity to be our God and our best friend all at once. And although He is always with us and knows exactly how each day went, down to the second, he still loves hearing us pour out our hearts to Him and relive our ups and downs of the day. But, usually prayer doesn’t begin like that when we are in our seedling stage, and that’s perfectly okay. Prayer can start as a quick offering of thanks with the bow of your head and clasp of hands before dinner, or prayer before the commencement or end of a church service. It doesn’t matter exactly what you say, but that you say it. And once you begin saying prayers it will get easier to open up to God and draw nearer to Him with ease.
Through prayer, the seedling is ready to develop into a plant, with a stem, leaves and flowers. But arguably the most important component hasn’t been introduced to this young seedling. With almost no exceptions, plants cannot grow without a direct source of water. Sure, maybe through soil the seed’s roots could have absorbed a few trickles to get it started but that’s not nearly enough! Plants need daily water to survive, it’s their main lifeline. They can go for a short period of time without it, but if they go too long in a dry spell, the seedlings growth comes to a quick stop and end. It’s no coincidence that the Holy Bible is a lifeline to believers. We should strive to read from it daily to continue on a steady path of growth. The Bible teaches us all about God, His purpose for us and much more. His Word is a manual for us to live life by. It is a holy outlet for Christians to connect to God on a deeper level. Without reading the Bible, our faith eventually comes to a standstill. Much like the roots absorb water to feed itself and survive, our hearts absorb this sacred text, if we allow it. Scripture shapes our hearts to be noble and good (Luke 8:15) when we learn and retain it and continually seek to live it out.
With a steady and supportive environment, the power or prayer and a Bible, our seed has turned to a full grown plant. Our faith can grow so strong with the help of all of these components. But, in order not to lose strength, we must continue to exercise each of these useful tricks and tools throughout our life. Faith can sometimes seem to slip from the firmest of grasps with the business and chaos of life, but find comfort in knowing God is always waiting for you, His beloved child, to come back to Him. He will never take any of these elements from us and we can always return to His everlasting love.
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
[Photo by Casey Hogue Photography. Find her on Instagram @caseyhoguephotos]