Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Kingdom of God is like 22 tons of hay

Barb and I visited my family this past week, who live about 1.5 hours south of us. We celebrated 3 birthdays (Steve, Sherry, Amber) and had some awesome Mama-cooked meals. Have you ever ruined a meal by eating too much? Not me, it just can't be done, not with Mama.

My cousin, Gerald, came by. Dad had been growing hay for years and would in turn sell it to Gerald for his cattle. Gerald had been working in the field and had come by to pay Mom for the hay. He had rolled 16 rolls of hay, each weighing 1,000 to 1,500 lbs. each. Earlier in the summer he had rolled 28. It seems incomprehensible to me that we have grown 22 tons of hay. It has been relatively easy: seeds were planted; God watered them; it grew; it was cut, dried, then rolled.

Jesus did a lot of work with people like my family and he would speak to them in their language. When he was in an agricultural region he spoke to these people who had broken ground and deposited seeds into the earth hoping to get back more than they had planted. These people had soaked their clothes working diligently and who had probably been stunned at the mystery--"they go to bed at night and get up by day and the seed sprouts and grows--how, he himself does not know. The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. But when the crop permits, he immediately uses the sickle, because the harvest has come" (Mark 4:26-29).

After that passage Jesus goes on to talk about a mustard seed. He says that though it is such a small seed, yet "when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large brancehes so that the birds of the air can nest under its shade."

Lately our team has been contemplating these stories. It is such a mystery as to how a church is initiated and sustained. We pray, serve, prepare, and mostly, we wait. We see that our task right now is to understand and to cultivate the soil of our area so that when seeds of the kingdom are planted that a people could be formed here that would bring honor to God, pleasure to us, and shelter to those who need it. It is always a major undertaking to work/to labor in the field for God. There is much labor and much waiting. It is a project about mustard seeds--that the seemingly insignificant becomes life changing for all involved.

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