Tag Archives: love

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.

Sustaining: Thankful for God

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.  Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. Psalms 36:5-6
Six years ago, Michael and I went to Paris, France for our wedding anniversary.  I remember the first full day, we got on the metro to go to the Eiffel Tower.  We entered a tunnel during the trip into the heart of the city.  As we left the tunnel, the Tower came into view.  We were in a train car with other Americans, and there was an audible gasp as we all looked at it. We left the metro and walked to the tower.  We stood under it and looked up.  The sheer size of it left me speechless and overwhelmed.  I’ve had similar experiences underneath the Arizona sky at night, how the entire sky seems massive, stretching from one end of the earth to the other.  Also, looking out over the ocean on a cruise ship, how tiny the boat feels (which isn’t tiny in the least) compared to the unending water around us. This verse reminds me just how small I am compared to the love, faithfulness, righteousness, and justice of God.  It is the tall tower, the evening sky, the expansive ocean.  It’s overwhelming and awe-inspiring.  I am so thankful we serve a God like our God.  

The Worth of Others

Recently, in our area, a young teenage boy took his own life due to bullying.  It breaks my heart that someone so young would believe he was hated so much, believe there was no hope for him, and believe that the only choice he had was to end his life so early.  There have been a lot conversations in our neighborhoods and in the media about bullying and what we as a society can do to prevent things like this from happening.

I mentioned in a previous post about realizing my worth in God, that he loves me so much that he would sacrifice his own son so that I could have a chance at a relationship with Him.  But I tend to stop there.  I want to live my life in a closer relationship with God, and I can get so inward focused that I lose sight of the next logical step.

If I’m worth that much to God, because I was created by him that means that everyone that was created by him is worth that much.  That means every person on this earth is worth the redemption of Christ and a chance to have a relationship with God.

That seems overwhelming. However, I don’t think God is tasking any one person to love every person in the world, but I do think that He is calling us to love every person in our life.  For some people in our lives, that’s easy.  It’s easy to love those who think like us, who live like us, and who talk like us.

But it’s the people who aren’t like us, who disagree with us, who lead lives that we don’t understand, who attack and criticize us for who we are, that we tend to avoid.  It’s easy to unfriend, delete, block or isolate ourselves from these kinds of people, but I believe God put these people, these opportunities for love, into our lives for a reason.

When we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  When we were still unlovable, angry, critical, judgmental.  When we didn’t live our lives in a way that honored God.  When we were the kind of people God should isolate himself from, He still came into our lives and loved us anyway.  Why should we be any different to the people around us?

We don’t love them so that they will do better in their lives.  We aren’t in relationship with them to control their behavior or convert them to our way of thinking.  We give them the same worth that God gives to us.  We love them unconditionally so that they will know God.   God gave us his love to share with others, not to keep to ourselves.

The tragedies in our community are a blatant cry for the love of God and the desire to know our true worth in a cruel and deceiving world.  As Christians, we are called to remind others of the truth through our compassion, our love, our words and actions to everyone we meet, lift each other up when we fall, and encourage each other along our journey in this life.

Mercy

Sorry for the hiatus.  It’s been another crazy couple of weeks.  I continue to have a love-hate relationship with my technology.  My office manager is about to leave on maternity.  There are some transitions coming with our church family (new additions to the staff.  Very exciting!).  So, it’s just been an overall crazy couple of weeks.  Oh, and tomorrow is the last day of my summer Spanish class.

I know that I’ve mentioned taking this class on the blog at the beginning of the summer.  It has been pretty amazing and so much more than a simple language course.  The professor is agnostic, yet he loves to talk about religion, faith, culture, and how these are affected by current events.  Of course, if anyone gets too “religious-y,” he tends to shut the conversation down and go back to Spanish.  Still, considering the diverse group of individuals in this class (coming from Algeria, India, Japan, Taiwan, Turkey, Thailand, Cambodia, as well as different backgrounds here in the US), it’s interesting to hear all the different perspectives.

In the most recent class, the conversation turned towards the meaning of evil and anger towards evil.  They listed off all the usual suspects like Hitler or the 9/11 terrorists as just plain evil people.  It got interesting when we started talking about mothers who killed their children due to extreme post-partum depression, whether they should be considered evil or just mentally ill.

I was very quiet, listening to all the comments made.  I didn’t realize that my thoughts were showing through on my face though.  In the middle of the discussion, a woman turned to look at me and said, “Katy, you look so sad.”  I shared that I felt that I couldn’t personally justify labeling someone evil, just writing them off as unredeemable.  I think choices can be evil, but for all the sacrifice that Christ made, I just can’t fathom that people are completely unredeemable.  Because that could very well mean that I could be unredeemable.

No, I haven’t killed anyone or made some terroristic action against my country.  But I have manipulated and hurt people before, and never asked them to forgive me, or even had the chance to ask.  I have selfishly indulged in the love, forgiveness, and salvation of God, knowing its relief and yet didn’t share it with others who were searching.  I have created the gap between God and myself with my sin, without having a way to repair it on my own, depending on the grace of God to find forgiveness and redemption.

The Bible shows me that I’m not alone.  Paul, as Saul, imprisoned men and women.  David was an adulterous murderer.  Rachel was a manipulative liar.  Jonah wanted to commit genocide.  Moses was a murderer and had anger issues.  The stories in the Bible are not of saints, but of imperfect people, people that could have easily been labeled evil before God’s redemption.

I think something this world desperately needs is an extension of mercy and grace.  One guy in my class said that God doles out mercy and grace and man doles out justice.  But my question is how will others understand that grace if we don’t first give it ourselves?

I’m, of course, not perfect in this wisdom.  I still judge people without mercy and grace.  I write off people as ones that can’t or won’t change, forgetting the stories of the Bible that say different.  I’m hoping to continue working on this because I honestly believe that if people started experiencing the grace of God through us, that we can change the world.  And what better way can we love others, but in the way that God has loved us?

Living with intention

Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on Pexels.com

It’s true.  Time seems to go so slowly until you get older.  Then, it just flies by.  Of course, I can’t actually slow time down, but last year I made a pact with myself to start living every second I have with purpose.

What purpose was that exactly?  I never felt completely called to one field or another.  I didn’t go to college knowing exactly what it was I wanted to do.  When I graduated, I didn’t feel pulled into one specific career.  I see that as an advantage, usually, but what, then, would be my purpose?

I believe my purpose is nestled in the two greatest rules of life (Matthew 22:34-40).  Love God.  Love others.  So, my first purpose was to race after a relationship with God before anything else on this earth.  My second purpose was to love those who God puts in my life with every fiber of my being.

Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

The way I reflect that is in my planning.  Every colored moment on my calendar is a pursuit to one of those purposes.  It’s something I hope to continue in 2013.  That, to me, is living with intention.