First up - A Man and a Handful of Seeds by Sam Al-Saadi.
“A Man and a Handful of Seeds”
There was a man who was given a handful of seeds. The man brought the seeds home and placed them on his kitchen table. He began to talk to the seeds and tell them it was time for them to grow. He explained to the seeds the process of growth and encouraged them to do what they were meant to do. As the days went by and the seeds remained on the man’s table, the man became frustrated. Why would the seeds not respond to his good teaching and encouragement? He knew the things he was telling them were right. He could not understand the seeds’ refusal to respond. Are not seeds supposed to grow, the man asked himself? I must have been given bad seeds, he thought to himself. In his frustration he became sterner and explained to the seeds that it is was their duty to grow and he told them that they were not living to their potential. For many weeks and months the man continued to teach, encourage, prod, and pray because he knew in his heart that the seeds were meant to grow.
One day a friend of the man came to the man’s home. As the man and his friend were enjoying a conversation, the man’s friend noticed the handful of seeds on the man’s table and asked the man about the seeds. The man told his friend how he was given the seeds and he told his friend everything he had done to make them grow. The friend smiled at the man and spent the rest of the afternoon explaining many things.
The very next day the man went out and found the most fertile soil that he could find. He did just as his friend had said and he brought home both fertilizer and peat to mix with the soil. He found a spot close to a window and placed large pots, which he filled with the most fertile soil, peat, and fertilizer. The sun was shining in the window, bright and clear, as the man placed the seeds in the pots at just the depth that his friend had told him. He watered the soil well and as the days passed he kept the soil watered with just the right amount of water. Two of the seeds never grew but the others began to grow. The man continued to do exactly as his friend had told him and he made sure to water the pots with just the right amount of water; he made sure to keep the room warm, he made sure to feed the seeds with fertilizer, and he made sure that the sun could shine brightly on the pots. The seeds had become plants and the plants continued to grow as the man did all that his friend had said. The plants did not all grow the same, but they all grew. Most of the seeds became very large plants and made the man very happy. Many of the plants even produced fruit, which not only made the man happy, but also tasted very good. The man shared the fruit with all those who came to visit and he loved to tell the story of the seeds and of his very good friend.
You cannot force a plant to grow, a flower to bloom, a fruit tree to produce its fruit anymore than you can an individual Christian or a church to grow. But doesn’t God require growth? In the book of Luke, Jesus told the parable of the barren fig tree. He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’” Luke 13.6-9
There are many examples throughout the Scripture that show God intends that both the individual Christian and the church grow, thrive, and produce abundant fruit. But what if we are not growing, what should we do? I think we all too often look to blame the plant when we don’t see genuine growth. But as the story of “A Man and a Handful of Seeds” illustrates, all it really takes for the seeds to reach their potential is to create the environment that the seeds require. In the right environment, the seeds cannot help but grow; the growth is in the seeds, they were always meant to grow, that is just what they do. So look around at your environment, roll up your sleeves, and get to work. Remember: till and fertilize the ground, provide lots of nutrients, and plenty of sunshine and water.
Pastor, if your church is not growing like it should, don’t look at your members, look at the environment that you’ve put them in. Make it a growth environment and start looking for a bigger building!
He shall be like a tree, planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. Psalms 1.3
Written by Sam Al-Saadi 1/14/12