“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.”- Galatians 6: 7, 9
Nature gives plenty of promise that can be applied to relationships. Only tomato seeds grow tomatoes. Only acorns produce oak trees. If we want to grow healthy, vibrant relationships, we need to plant the right seeds.
Sow into your spouse…grow a marriage
Sow into your children…grow a family legacy
Sow into your friends…grow friendships
Sow into your church…grow fellowship
Sow into your neighbors…grow a community
Sow into global citizens…grow a unified world
Seeds of Presence
In Mark 3:13-14, we read that Jesus called his disciples to come be with him before he sent them out. “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve—designating them apostles—that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach.”
Presence isn’t just about proximity; presence is about purpose.
Jesus used his presence for the purpose of teaching, loving, preparing, nurturing, modeling, and then, sending. Jesus desired to be present with his disciples for the purpose of preparing his disciples.
Here are some ways to sow seeds of presence with purpose for people in our lives:
- Be Present with individual moments (perhaps unplanned, give focused attention)
- Be Present with play (game nights, silly antics, wrestle-tickle matches, jokes and rhymes, dance party)
- Be Present with quality questions (open-ended, thoughtful, with patient listening)
- Be Present with device-free time (all agree to set place/time with no devices and engaged conversation)
- Be Present with movement (take a walk, ride bikes, show off your hula hoop skills, exercise video with friend or family member, dance party #2)
- Be Present with boundaries (leave work at work, let phone calls go to voicemail, limit computer time)
- Be Present with curiosity (get to know others, make no assumptions, treat like a brand new friend or celebrity)
- Be Present with appreciation (comment on the specialness of spending time together, value of relationship)
- Be Present with intentional activity (plan ahead and communicate engaging activities with friends or family, enjoy the anticipation)
- Be Present with affection (greet family and friends with hugs & kisses as appropriate, cuddle while reading to a child, hold hands in the car, in a store, on a walk, comb and stroke a family member’s hair, give a manicure, prepare mentally and physically for sexual intimacy with spouse – initiate!)
Spiritual Seeds in Children
When our children were young, we did not hold family devotions in a set manner. Christian ministries and churches promoted this habit heavily in our early parenting days, but we did not manage it. My precious-pastor husband is not time-oriented; he is people oriented. To make nightly family devotions a routine would have been more of a stress on me than a blessing.
Recently, I asked our 30-something adult children about our family devotions failing. They said basically, “So what???”
Instead what they told me sounded like Deut 6: 6-7: And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” Their comments included:
- Spiritual conversations and prayer did happen regularly and they were comfortable and significant exchanges that built our family relationships and brought God to the center.
- The children’s books, VBS and missions curriculum chosen at random but intentional times prompted spiritual conversations.
- Nighttime reading, prayer and scripture memory as children were sweet and meaningful times.
- GT & Halo Express, Psalty the Singing Songbook and other worship music tapes filled our home and car. (All three of our children are seasoned worship leaders to this day.)
- Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey tapes and other character-building audio books were played on long road trips.
- Cable TV was never a part of our home in those early years and any TV or scrutinized videos were limited to weekends.
They also witnessed the value of growing in God through our lives and our adult friends’ modeling:
- We prayed.
- We read the Word, took Bible courses and attended/lead studies and talked about what we learned in natural contexts.
- We listened to Christian radio teachers and music.
- We displayed a consistent love for God’s family, the church, even in painful times.
- We had visitors and families in our house and our children joined the meals.
- We took part in the Great Commission by supporting missionaries, directing mission fairs and courses, taking short term trips (they did this also as youth and young adults), and even moving overseas in our empty-nest season for several years.
- We chose to live a simple, orderly life, not addicted to drugs or alcohol, not chasing material wealth or adopting worldly standards.
My Seeds in God’s Hands
So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. I Cor 3:7
Not all my seeds will survive.
We have the picture of soil conditions that can impact fragile seeds in Jesus’ Parable of the Sower (Matt 13:3-9). Some people have hard hearts and no foundation for understanding seeds of love and truth. Others struggle with much personal trouble and affliction; they cannot receive seeds of love and truth. Still others allow the world’s worries and attractions to choke out seeds of love and truth for their lives. We long for fertile ground for our planting efforts but we cannot control soil conditions.
We must continue to sow. There can be no harvest without a seed. However, the survival and timeline for producing a healthy plant and fruit is not within our control. God’s faithfulness to natural principles shows we can depend on Him for growing our seeds and blooming love in our relationships in His perfect timing. Go forth and plant!