BY REV. BOB VAAGE -- FIRST LUTHERAN CHURCH
He also said, "The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come. - Mark 4:26-29
November is a time to give thanks for God's many provisions. The harvest is well underway, and many are already finishing up the field work, while the produce from vegetable gardens has been either canned or consumed. Farmers enjoy the special feeling that comes from knowing that all the hard work has paid off. The harvest is in the bin and life is good.
The scripture from Mark 4 reminds us that the seed of faith grows mysteriously, all by itself. No matter how hard we work preparing the soil or nurturing the ground, the seed grows by a power greater and more wonderful than our own. Every night we go to bed having done the best we can, knowing that the fruit of our labor is in the hands of the Lord.
This is a liberating word of good news for hard-working Christians.
It's a reminder that God is the source of every good gift and continues to bless our work with his grace -- multiplying our efforts in ways that we may never fully comprehend.
Yet, too often we become discouraged because we do not see the results we would like. How many farmers dream of 80 bushel beans, but only realize 60? How many dream of perfect weather and no "breakdowns," but face one setback after another as they work to finish the harvest?
The same gap between our dreams and reality exists in our spiritual lives. Parents, maybe your children, are not making the healthy choices you would like them to. Sunday school teachers, perhaps it seems like your students aren't paying attention to your well-planned lessons. Church leaders, you have big plans for your ministry team, but your volunteers are too busy to show up for meetings. We all know what it's like to have unfulfilled expectations.
As we fast approach the celebration of Thanksgiving, let's stay focused on the simple gifts of life. Let's join our families and friends in a spirit of gratitude for all that the Lord has done for us. Cherish the days off. Be fully present with the people you love -- give them your undivided attention. Rest in the knowledge that God is at work in your life in ways you may never fully comprehend.
Remember, you may plant the seed, but it is God who makes it grow.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!