“Watching & Waiting” Meditations: 16. Sowing with Expectation
Mt 13:3 “A farmer went out to sow his seed”
Many of us may not have gardens or even ‘back-yards’ and so talk about gardening seems rather alien, but the truth is that it was part of the culture of Jesus’ day and so his short stories about sowing seeds etc. came into a community that knew about farming, and they come with principles that speak to a much wider community, all of us today. We may not grow them, but we almost certainly do know about sowing seeds to produce crops.
We have recently been thinking about the crazy aspects of faith and yesterday about our lives being seen as fallow ground that needs some preparation to receive seeds, but the thought of sowing seeds in our lives may seem somewhat strange for some of us, so pause with me while we give it some thought because it does raise something very significant that I believe we may have to think about – our expectations.
The other day my wife found half a dozen broad beans in a packet that was clearly four years old and being the enthusiast that she is, she planted them in pots. Now seeds of all sorts lose their potency after two years so I don’t have the expectations that she does about them germinating and turning into plants. But what about the things we do in our Christian lives, do we have an expectancy about them?
Let’s start with prayer because this whole ‘watching and waiting’ thing starts there. I wonder, if we are people who have such times of ‘waiting on the Lord’ or even simply having a daily morning ‘Quiet Time’, do we approach that time with a sense of expectation that it will be more than a time of us simply bouncing words off the walls? May I suggest that even before you speak words, you sow expectation and anticipation, both of which are cousins of ‘hope’, that you ‘station yourself on the rampart’ with the expectation that you will see something, hear something. You are not going there to just wile away the time or fulfil a guilt-motivated ritual that leaves you feeling unfulfilled. No, you come with a sense of expectancy that you are going to (somehow) encounter God. It may just be a sense of His presence, it may be a verse imparted into you to release faith, it may be a full word of encouragement or direction. What it is, is not down to us, but us going into the quiet place with expectation, that is the important thing.
So, in the context of prayer, watching and waiting, the seeds need to be things that will bring a harvest of faith. That brings us back to listening, for the seed will surely be his word (Lk 8:11). In ground that we have allowed to be prepared, that is open to receiving such seed, that is ready to receive the rain of His Spirit, when the word from heaven comes to our open, waiting, and expectant hearts, it will be received with joy, will burst forth with faith that shouts, “Yes, Lord!” and will energize us to move on to the next phase, to get ready to receive Him as He comes over the horizon of our expectations. Prayer has that possibility. So not only are we sowing expectancy, but we are also sowing prayers and, dare I suggest it, we are sowing silence, time when we just sit still in His presence, and each of these things can bring forth life, germinated by His Holy Spirit.
But as we watch and wait in these ways, as we’ve just suggested, words may come back, impressions of intent or however else the Lord will communicate and as He does so, those things become seeds to be sown in faith, things He puts into our mind to be done. Sometimes such things will come in this time of waiting, at other times – and because we have increased our sensitivity in such times of waiting – they come as gentle promptings in the circumstances that face us. If we see such things as seeds from the Holy Spirit, we may expect Him, as we ‘sow them’, to water them and cause them to germinate and life to come forth.
So you may be simply sharing your experiences, your testimony if you like, with a friend, as the Holy Spirit opens the way up. See this opportunity to share as sowing seeds and quietly ask the Lord to water your words to bring that life in the one with whom you are sharing.
Or perhaps you find the Lord presenting you with a person in need, need of encouragement perhaps, need of help maybe, or even financial help. As you respond, see what you are doing as seeds that can bring forth something perhaps much greater than you might expect. I love the kingdom idea that Jesus speaks about, of the mustard seed, “the smallest of all the seeds,” (Mk 4:31) but yet “when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants.” (4:32) You never know if what you are sowing in faith will, with His enabling, grow into something great. But it does need that expectancy.
Or perhaps a friend shares with you that they are feeling ill and suddenly the Holy Spirit drops a seed of faith into you mind – “Pray for them.” You mean at home? “No, right now.” Will you have the courage to offer to pray over them, then and there, expressing Jesus love, doing exactly what Jesus said we would do (Jn 14:12), simply because we ‘believe in him’, believe that he is “the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Heb 13:8) that he wants to turn up through his people and do what he did while on earth. The farmer “went out to sow his seed” because he expected the seed to bring new life, a harvest. Will we?