tractor pexels freestocksorg 175389The roads this month have been busy with farm vehicles, gathering the harvest and trailing the grain from field to farm, which has led me to return to an unfinished piece of artwork from several years ago.

The already prepared hand coloured yellow background, sheer fabrics and couched threads reminded me of the fields of ripe corn, so I set to- adding more fabric layers to stitch the parable of the sower.

Now the parable of the sower is such a familiar passage in Scripture, that I often gloss over it, thinking to myself, “Oh, I know this one... nothing new here…”, as I skim over the well-known words without allowing God to open my eyes afresh to its truths. As I prepared to stitch, I knew that the focus of hand stitching would allow me to mull over the words, and perhaps allow new ideas to permeate.

In the Parable of the Sower, the words of Jesus encourage us to tend the seeds of our lives, so that we might grow fully and be nourished enough to yield a good crop to feed others.

Tending the Seed
We are to be effective farmers, tending the good seed Christ has sown within that has been entrusted to us. We are to each nourish the seed so that it grows effectively within us. Tending means nurturing, paying attention to, taking charge of, waiting for, staying with, heeding, being aware of what is happening now…
So, I wonder, can we name the good seeds that have been sown into each of our lives?
How can we each tend fully, the seeds that God has sown already into our lives?

Growing Well
IMG 4305 square enhancedNow, seeds need 6 things to grow well...

If we don’t allow the good seed sown within us enough nutrients to grow, then it will shrivel and die. So, how can we each provide good soil to nourish the seeds within us to grow?
What might we need to do practically, to foster healthy spiritual growth in our lives?

Sunlightsunset wheat pexels pixabay 533982
Plants need just the right amount of sunlight. Too much, and unprotected they will scorch and wither, unable to put down strong roots. Too little, means they will not flourish and mature.
How can we each ensure that we are robust enough to withstand the heat of trials and troubles, yet ensure that we turn our faces to the Son to receive enough light to grow?

watering the crops pexels markus spiske 95215We have all, I am sure, been guilty of neglecting a plant by not watering it enough, or conversely, been over keen and killed it through over watering it and rotting the roots! Water is essential for seeds to grow, but too much and the seed will rot; too little and the seed will die. Jesus tells us that, “...whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14
What practical things would help us each to be nourished and well-watered in our lives right now?

Without air, the seed, deprived of oxygen will die. If the roots cannot access air, then they will be unable to absorb sufficient water and nutrients. I am reminded here of one of God’s many names... Rhuah...the breath of God, and the lyrics of a song that come to mind, reflecting this: “This is the air I breathe” written by Marie Barnett, a line of which declares, “This is the air I breathe....your very presence living in me…”
How do we each absorb enough air; enough breath of God for our spirit to grow?

Space to Grow
space to grow pexels visionpic net 1007858All plants need sufficient space to grow well. In the parable of the seeds, Jesus tells of the thorns choking the growth of the plants. I wonder what weeds there are in our own lives that threaten to choke the good things and limit the growth that God has in mind for us?
How might we seek to weed out the things in our lives that keep us from a full and healthy spiritual life?

tending the plants pexels karolina grabowska 4207908We know that some plants can grow without being tended. We have only to look at the dandelion and nettles in amongst the vegetable patch to see this, but plants that are tended and given the best opportunities to grow, grow better. Farmers spend a lifetime learning how to tend crops, so perhaps in turn, we might learn from the characteristics of a good farmer, to help us tend the good seed in our lives.

Farmers are...

1. Hard working
They work long hours, committed to providing the best for their crops. This may mean getting up early to water before the sun gets up or working into the night to gather the harvest before the weather turns.

2. Attuned to the Land & Seasons
Farmers learn to note the patterns of the weather and seasons so they may work with the land and the seasons planting, feeding, weeding, and harvesting crops to the best of their ability. They utilise the environment as best they can, planting crops in soil that is right for individual plants.

3. AdaptableThe Sower IMG 9239 cropped square
The best farmers are adaptable, open to change the way that they have always done something, for a better way when the markets change.

4. Planners
Farming is not haphazard. It takes many years to learn how to plan the best times to sow & to harvest; to know the best land to grow the right crops. Crop rotation over several years brings better 

5. Patient & Persistant
Farming is not an easy role. It takes persistence and patience to learn, to adapt and change, waiting for each yearly cycle, different from the last to reveal the long-awaited harvest yields, and there is much to deal with apart from the actual sowing and planting.

6. Risk Takers
Every time a farmer plants, they take a risk, not fully knowing whether seeds will provide a good crop, despite the care that they invest into yielding a good harvest. There may be drought, floods, disease that hinder growth, yet still each year they sow and plant, doing all that they can, preparing and hoping for good growth.

7. Part of a Team
Lastly, farmers need others to function well. Many fields cannot be ploughed alone, nor seeds sown in number, nor crops harvested without the help of others. A good framer puts their trust in others, surrounding themself with a great team to help them do their job well.

So, I wonder if we can see evidence of these 7 characteristics in our own lives?
Is there one aspect that we feel might need some attention in our own lives?

God is the One, who sows good things into our lives. May we each learn to partner with him, to help with the harvest, not shirking from the hard work that is required. May we be attuned to all that is happening around us, adapting to change willingly, being prepared to join in with whatever God plans for us to do, waiting patiently for the right season to be fruitful and ready to take risks for the sake of God’s Kingdom. Amen

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