I was familiar with pretty much every one of these parables in Mark 4. The chapter opens with the story of the Parable of the Sower. The seed scatters to various places – the path, rocks, thorns, and good soil which affect their ability in growing into a harvest. Jesus then explains that these seeds represent the ways people will receive the word. Other more familiar parables in this chapter include the one about hiding the light of a lamp (or maybe we know it better by the song “This Little Light of Mine”) and the “faith like a mustard seed” verses.
But between the lamp and the mustard seed, he also said,
“This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”– Mark 4:26-29
The Kingdom of God is like a man who has no control or understanding over the seeds he puts in the ground. Whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed still grows. All the man had to do was scatter the seed.
Growing up in the church, it was impressed on me that the number one job I had to do was convert people. And that foundation has affected the rest of my faith. I’m supposed to tell people about God, share my testimony, even love other people in such a way that at the end of the day, they became followers of God, too. But I am so preoccupied with the converting part that I forgot my job was just to scatter the seed.
If lead with love first, instead of conversion, my trust is placed not in my own abilities or knowledge, but in the very hands of God. I don’t need to worry about who gets to be loved or not. Because the seed was still scattered to the path, the rocks, and the thorns. The reality is that God knows how it all works. I do not. There is not a perfect process, memory verse, a complete understanding of the Bible or of people that will convert a single soul. Only God knows that. Only God can do that.
This frees me up to just do what God has set out for me to do. Just do the next best thing, the next step. Love that person. Just love them. Help that person. Just help them. Remove the agendas, the need to do it correctly, because God’s plan is already in motion. Living this way still requires me to stay connected to God, to lean in on His love so that I can love others freely and faithfully.
Ending it with the stormy seas being calmed by Jesus was perfect. The people in that boat and the others with them knew how to sail. They knew how to navigate the storms, but this storm was overpowering. They could not rely on their knowledge or skill to see them through. It brings me to this truth. We do not control the storms or the seeds, but we can trust that God is behind all of it, making everything work to his command. All that is required of me is to scatter the love of God and let God handle the rest.