Several years ago we started planting wildflowers, a patch here one year and a patch there the next, babying them for exactly one summer, then letting them do their own thing. Every spring we eagerly await the results. Last year black-eyed Susans sprang up where we had never planted them. This year rain lilies rose in a larger clump and farther from the original bed than you would have thought possible. The year before a bright yellow coreopsis suddenly bloomed way out in the field amid nothing but grass. It’s exciting to see what can happen over the years from just one seed sown in the middle of five acres.
I have had the same experience lately with my old Bible class literature. Suddenly I received a drop ship order from one of the Bible book stores to an address nearly 2000 miles distant. Yet the last name, an uncommon one especially considering the relatively small size of the brotherhood, was familiar. It was the first name I didn’t know. Was this the daughter, or maybe the daughter-in-law of a woman I taught thirty years ago? Imagine that.
Don’t you think the apostles had the same feelings when, years after they had sown the seed in a rough Gentile town, they had news of another group of disciples, or maybe several groups, in the same vicinity? The power of God’s word screams out from the growth of the church in the ancient world and the way it changed history itself.
I have had people who knew my parents in their younger years tell me of the things they did for them, things they still remembered and that obviously meant a lot. Keith has had people come up to him and say, “I still have that letter you wrote me years ago. It changed my life.” And, “I remember that class you taught. It helped me through a rough time.”
We have opportunities every day to make a difference in someone’s life. Too many times we ignore them because we don’t believe anything we say or do will make that much difference. Let me tell you something. It isn’t yourself you are demeaning by thinking that way—it’s God’s word and His power through that word. When you help someone, when you speak a word of encouragement, when you act with kindness in a situation where no one else would have bothered, you are tapping into that power yourself and spreading the grace of God to others. It may be just the “cup of cold water” Jesus mentions in Matt 10:42, but that cup can change a life.
I have lost count of the times people have said to me, “I remember when you…” You know what? Most of the time, I don’t remember it, but I thank God for sending some small amount of inspiration for me to say the right thing, even though I was perfectly oblivious at the time. Truly He helps us in every circumstance.
When our lives are over, we should be able to walk out into the field and find little patches of grace that came from some seed we sowed, however inadvertently, years before. Yellow daisies, white rain lilies, blue bachelors’ buttons, pink phlox, red cypress vines—you never know what you will get when you spread the word with an act of kindness or word of compassion--no matter how small it may seem to you!
So put on your gardening gloves this morning and start planting.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isa 55:10,11.