Thursday, September 9, 2010

Unexpected Fruit from Long Dormant Seeds

Seeds can lay dormant for long periods and still germinate into fruitful plants. They get covered up with too much soil and remain inactive, but something brings them to the surface and they sprout and produce, sometimes decades after they fell to the ground.

About five years ago I experienced something that illustrates the same dynamic with God's work. In the mid-1800's an illustrator made etchings of Bible scenes that were collected in a book published after his death. I stumbled upon a copy, but it sat in my basement for months until I showed it to my then three year old daughter. The illustration of Jesus raising Jairus' daughter from the dead caught her attention and I was able to use it to tell her about Jesus' power and love. See Matthew 9:18-19, 23-26; Mark 5:22-24, 35-43; Luke 8:41-42, 49-56. That stuck her, and for a long time after that whenever we looked at her children's Bible she wanted to go right to the part where "Jesus made that little girl feel better."

That shows how God can produce fruit in ways beyond our understanding. He used a seed sown in the mid-nineteenth century to produce fruit early in the twenty-first century. All that occurred long after the etching was made, the artist was gone, and the world had changed in ways the artist couldn’t have possibly imagined. And that etching only had that effect because of the actions of others the artist had no control over (the editor and publisher of the posthumous book, its distributors, whoever owned the book before me, and me).

The point is that God is able to use our good works to far more effect than we can possibly imagine—if we use what He gives us in the first place.

Adapted from Gardening for God.

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