In the Office: A Seedy Affair

I was unable to compose yesterday’s “In the Office” reflection because I was with my mother, who was having surgery. I’m happy to report that the surgery went well, and I’m grateful for all the words of encouragement and assurances of prayer that we received. But while I was “out of the office,” new needs continued to crop up; and as a result, I come back to the office today feeling somewhat behind and slightly overwhelmed.

Perhaps that’s why I take comfort in the following words of Jesus. In today’s Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer, the Lord says:

“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…As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29)

Although I won’t claim that this is what Jesus was trying to say, part of what this text communicates to me is the notion that the growth of “kingdom seeds” is God’s doing and not ours. That’s not to say that we have no part to play. The man in Jesus’ parable scatters the seeds in the beginning, reaps the grain in the end, and probably does a fair amount of tending in between. And yet, the responsibility for the growth – the mysterious work of the Spirit that truly matters – is not only beyond our control but also beyond our understanding.

And if that’s the case, then we’re set free from the burden of feeling like we’re responsible for achieving kingdom ends. All that we can do is apply ourselves to the task at hand – and then trust that God is able to take our efforts and use them for His purposes.

Are there burdens and responsibilities that have left you feeling “somewhat behind and slightly overwhelmed?” Today, may we all find peace in knowing that “God is the One who works within us” (Philippians 2:13); and may we be able to entrust the growth of the kingdom to the only One who can bring it to fruition.

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