Tuesday, February 13, 2018

"Relax a Little"

Mark 4.26-29 “The Message”

“Then Jesus said, ‘God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it.

The seed sprouts and grows — he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain.

When the grain is fully formed, he reaps — harvest time!’ ”

A new pastor came to town and an elderly woman parishioner invited him home for dinner. The woman’s husband did not attend church and before meal time the pastor found the man in his back yard working in the family garden. Wanting to make a good impression, the young clergyman observed, “This sure is a beautiful garden you and the Lord have” to which the older gentleman replied, “Yeah? You should have seen it when just the Lord had it!”

All work, including the work of the gospel, is not done by the Lord alone. He equips His children to perform certain tasks in partnership with Him. Beautiful gardens don’t just appear. It’s a joint God-human venture. As Paul once explained, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” (1st Corinthians 3.6). You could say, 'Without God, I can’t. Without me He won’t.'

We have been handed an earth and a mandate: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it,” (Genesis 1.28b). We are called to help create culture and beauty, gardens and cities, art and music, sales and income, peace and joy, disciples and friends. We must do our part to make this world a better place than we found it. This has been our Maker’s expectation since day six.

We were born to work and work well. This is our part. But when our part is done, we must let it go and learn to relax. It’s called trust. People who can’t trust, can’t relax. After a full day of seed throwing, a man of faith “goes to bed and forgets about it.” He trusts that “harvest time” will come.

Jesus knew how to relax. He took a nap at the back of a boat threatened by “a fierce gale of wind” with waves “breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up” with water (Mark 4.37). In this moment Jesus is “seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3.1). He is not on His feet peering over the edge of His heavenly cloud, shaking a fist at those crazy humans. Things are under control. Jesus knows how to relax a little.

The man in Christ’s parable casts the seed and “then goes to bed and forgets about it.” The seed sower “has no idea how it happens, but somehow the garden flourishes. “The earth does it all without his help.” Amazing! Good things happen without my persistent oversight. I may as well learn to trust and relax a little.

"Storm on the Sea of Galilee" ca. 1633 by Rembrandt van Rijn.

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