Tag Archives: God is in control

Scatter the Seed (Mark 4)

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.

COVID-19

The Coronavirus, as it is commonly called.  What a week, or should I say month, huh friends?

I’ve gone back and forth about what I would actually say, if I would actually say anything about what is going on in our country, let alone the world.  But for my little corner of the internet, I thought it would be appropriate to tell my story, my experience, so far, as a little memory capsule for years to come.

So, in my normal routine, I get supplies for the house about once a month and groceries once a week.  Starting at the end of February, Michael and I decided to go ahead and get March’s supplies and two weeks’ worth of food for the pantry, plus a few nonperishables.  At the time, I’ll admit I thought I was being a little overreactive, but even at that point, there was no hand sanitizer on the shelves and very little Clorox wipes available either.

Then last week happened.  The Stock Market started tanking.  The first states to be hit with the virus started shutting down and taking more extreme measures.  The President addressed the public several times.  The CDC went from just washing hands to social distancing recommendations.  And the number of people affected by this virus in our area started to climb.

My dad works at one of the biggest grocery chains in the country.  He told me stories of people waiting by the stock room door for pallets of toilet paper to come on to the floor.  They get picked up before they even make it to the shelves.  By Saturday, every department was hit with empty shelves as people continued to buy in double the normal average amounts.

But the reality is this.  We are not running out of food.  Employees are working overtime to make sure we can get the things we need.  And I am so grateful for them.  And I’m also reminded that I need to not let myself succumb to the hysteria while still being alert and informed.

There is a lot of unknown and scary right now.  Anxieties are high.  My anxiety has gotten the best of me several times.  I’ve had to designate phone-free times during my day.  I’ve also had to designate clean-free times as well, because I will stress-clean (as my husband calls it) obsessively.  I have to be really intentional about down time and self-care.  I haven’t finished a book in over a week because every time I try to sit down and read; my brain won’t turn off.

One funny example from last week, I made myself some tea and was going to curl up in bed with a book while my son napped.  But first, I needed to clean off my bedside table, and then my headboard, and the other bedside table, and might as well wipe down the dresser.  I knew I was in trouble when I found myself kneeling on a chest wiping down the frames on the wall.  So, I have started using timers. I also bought myself some puzzles.  For some reason, puzzles can take that obsessive aspect of my brain and keep it occupied.

And of course, I’m leaning on God.  He is revealing things about His nature through this experience.  His faithfulness to our family, His love and strength.  I am so thankful that He is in control, and no matter what happens in the next few weeks and months, I know He won’t leave my side.

I hope you are finding ways to bring calm and sanity into your life.  Whether it’s gratitude for the hard-working men and women at the grocery stores or organizing and structuring your life to keep you from obsessively cleaning (or is that just me), or leaning on God morning, noon, and night.  I hope you stay safe and healthy and find new ways to stay connected to both God and the people around you.

And as always, wash your hands.

Sustaining: Keep Going

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  – Isaiah 43:2

My faith has been built and strengthened by God’s love revealed in past situations.  I was reflecting on that this week, how one event led to another, to another, to another.

For example, when I had my first miscarriage, when I got the diagnosis that a miscarriage was inevitable, I sat with God, asking for a miracle.  But if not, that I trusted Him and that I knew He had a bigger plan.  That wasn’t out of the blue.

It was built on the experiences before that.  It was built on the “come to Jesus” conversation I had in my car right before I met Michael.  It was built on being led to a job that I enjoyed for almost 10 years helping other people.  It was built on seeing God in my life when my life felt out of control.

And when I lost my first daughter in stillbirth, the claims that I was stubbornly in love with God and that I would stay faithful no matter what, that was built on all of the things He had done after the first miscarriage.

Reflecting on this verse, I realize that God isn’t saying “if” you pass through the waters, “if” you walk through the fire.  It’s not “if,” it’s “when.”  But when it does happen, He will be there.  And looking back, I’m reminded again and again how His walk with me has strengthened my faith with every step.  Just keep going.

Sustaining: The Lord Prepares

In my readings this week, the verse that hit me was:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10

Usually, this verse takes on an evangelical slant for me.  That the people I reach out to, the community I serve, were prepared for me and I was prepared for them.

But then I think about my response to my loss.  In the years and decades leading up to that moment of no heartbeat, God had been preparing me.  The faith I exhibited wasn’t because of something I did, something I prepared for.  Who prepares for things like that?  Who knows what is to come?

But God did.  In the conversations with friends going through infertility years before we even thought about having kids.  In the classes that showed a bigger picture of God’s world.  Even in the practice of yoga that reminded me to breathe and take each moment in slowly.  Grief therapy came at the perfect moments.  A therapist who had walked my path before me.  God was preparing it all.

And he’s not done.  Through this journey, he’s preparing me to do good works for others.  To minister to women who are walking this path.  To show compassion to those hurting from the loss in their lives.  To give grace and space to others around me.

He gives purpose to pain.  And I am ever grateful for it.