Whether you’re a gardener or not, you’ve probably planted seeds at some point in your life. Maybe as a school project when you were a child or in your yard as an adult.
It’s fascinating to see the first tender sprouts poke through the soil and reach for the sun. The visible daily growth is magical to watch until, at last, the fruit is ready to be harvested or the flower blooms in brilliant color.
Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed uses one of the most extreme examples of growth - the mustard seed. The smallest of seeds that becomes the largest of garden plants.
Without proper care and attention, the seedling will fade away. But with proper care, the reward is a hearty, thriving plant that sustains life and becomes a beautiful paradise for wildlife.
So too is the growth of our faith.
It starts as a tiny idea, a concept we are taught as children, or maybe even in adulthood. It’s an abstract theory. Nothing we can touch or feel or smell.
How do we nurture it? Are we able to impact its growth?
The seed needs care and attention. It needs water. It needs sunlight. It needs to be weeded and fed.
So how do we nurture our tiny seed of faith into a beautiful, life-sustaining plant that leads us to the Father?
Caring is a choice.
We choose what friends will get a piece of our free time. We choose whether we try hard at our job. We choose all the priorities in our lives.
Our walk with God is also a choice. It’s a decision we make as to whether we care enough to make the effort it takes to get to know Him and nurture a relationship with Him.
The choice is ours. No one can force or convince us if we don’t care enough to take the first step, to put that seed in the soil.
How much do you care to get to know God?
A relationship can't grow without commitment – without dedicated time and effort.
How do we give God our attention, especially when our faith is still a seedling that hasn’t reached the light of day yet?
Make a choice to walk with God. That means treating Him as a friend, a mentor, a coach, a parent. Talk to Him often. Ask Him to help you. Thank Him. See His majesty in everyday life – in sunrises and sunsets, in daily miracles of birth and the stunning wonders in our oceans. See the beauty that surrounds us and thank Him for it. Giving God your daily mindfulness will help you get to know Him and your seedling will start reaching up to the sun.
Water sustains life. How do you water your faith?
Listen to God. He normally speaks very quietly and sometimes just gives a gentle nudge. Sometimes He sends messages through the actions of people, sometimes He will speak directly to your heart with no words.
It can be hard to discern God’s messages, but one thing is certain. You have to listen closely. Pay attention and He will make Himself known to you.
Study and Learn.
Read the Bible. Go to Bible study. Read books by notable Christians. Learn about Christianity and its history.
People think that having faith is only about “hope” but there is a logical foundation for Christianity that's based on near-fact (since it cannot be proven conclusively by scientists). My favorite books are those in which non-Christians set out to disprove Christianity and end up concluding that there is no other possibility than Christianity. Even though I have great faith, I find comforting satisfaction in these stories.
Oh, the beautiful warmth of sunlight! How do we add sunshine to our journey of faith?
Sunlight represents the positive influences we choose. The like-minded Christians that we either know personally, or get to know in our Bible study, or meet in Church. Even social media can help us mingle within Christian groups.
Hold tight to the positive influences you find. Their sunlight will strengthen your stem and deepen your roots.
Don’t let your sprouting plant get choked out by weeds! Weeds are darkness, such as doubt and the negative influences in our life.
When in doubt, seek out more sunshine. Find a mentor who can help you when you’re struggling, a trusted friend, or your pastor.
Weed out the negative influences, whether they are doubters who criticize you or fellow Christians who aren't walking the talk.
Weeds can be anywhere. Ask God to help you discern whether you are faced with a weed or not. The beautiful part of weeding is that one little tug will destroy the weed and you’ll have nothing stopping your faith from growing again.
How do you feed your plant to sustain its growth?
Prayer is a scoop of Miracle Gro.
Make praying a habit. Pray wholeheartedly and throughout the day.
Plan at least one dedicated time each day for quiet reflection and a prayerful conversation with God. But even as you’re rushing through your hectic day, you can also find many opportunities for an impromptu ‘Thank you’ for the countless blessings you will discover in your life, or to whisper short prayers for those who need it, such as for your sick co-worker or people struggling in a natural disaster.
Maybe you’ll find the easiest place to pray is in church. Maybe it’s when you’re lying quietly in bed. Make time for prayer, and be sure it includes thanksgiving for the blessings you do have.
Prayer will bring your heart closer to God. The more you know Him, the stronger your faith will become.
Nurture your faith and the reward will be great, as Jesus promised.
Before you know it, your tiny mustard seed will have flourished into a big beautiful bush, giving you a glimpse of the majesty and beauty that awaits us for all eternity.
Matthew 13:31-32 New International Version (NIV)
The Parables of the Mustard Seed (and the yeast)
31 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”
How do you nurture your faith? I'd love to hear in the comments!