I planted my first ever garden this past summer. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and this year I was determined to accomplish. My two little boys were so excited to help me and taking them to the greenhouse to pick up seeds is one of my favorite memories with them. I admit we may have been a little optimistic about the number of things that would successfully grow in the ten by ten box my husband built for me, but there were so many things we wanted to try. My four year old, Bez, wanted to get everything they had to offer. We came away with veggies I didn’t even like, but for some reason sounded appetizing when I was growing them myself. We got home from the greenhouse and went right out to the garden to get started. Bez and Benaiah, our two year old, had so much fun dropping the seeds and plants into the little holes we dug. I was about eight months pregnant, and it was unusually hot for that time of year, so it wasn’t the prettiest sight in the world, but we got it done. Every day we would head out there with the hose and douse the plants…when the first ones started growing we went out as a family to oooo and awww over the little sprout. One day I turned my back for five seconds, so naturally Benaiah went outside to “work” in the garden. He plopped down right in the middle and sat on my cucumber plants to pick some tiny green tomatoes which were nowhere near ready. I hurried to stop him, but not soon enough and those tomatoes were toast. He’d been helpful planting the garden, but it didn’t really matter how many seeds he planted if he was going to go out and kick the dirt around the next day.
Years ago I had a bad experience with a good Christian person. In a moment of frustration with someone else, they lashed out at me with words that had probably been bubbling beneath the surface for quite a while. At that moment it didn’t matter how kind she had been to me in the past. How many good “seeds” she had planted in my life…I was hurt. For a long time after that, I held that person at bay…believing that their kindness was fake and the nice things they did were just an act to make people like them. How could she call herself a Christian and talk like that? How did she think she could make an impact and still treat someone that way? And one day as I was just going about my business she came to mind. I started to feel myself getting riled up, frustrated and annoyed. And suddenly, without warning…I heard God’s voice whisper to me…”Be careful…She’s you.” I knew in an instant it was true. That I could remember a hundred times I’ve done the same thing. That it wouldn’t be difficult to find occasions where I’d kicked up the dirt around seeds I’d planted myself.
I was out with my family a few weeks ago and there was a lady carrying a super cute canvas bag with a Bible verse printed on it in huge letters. And then she was mean to my little boy. You better believe I wanted to go up to her and tell her that if she’s gonna flash scriptures all over town maybe she shouldn’t be mean to little kids. Fortunately I kept my mouth shut…partly because I was too far away to confront her and mostly because if I tried to I would probably pass out in a puddle on the floor before the words ever left my mouth. Even as a Christian I was upset that this lady would advertise Jesus’s love around town and then deny it with her actions. But I’m sure I’ve done it too. And people see it. We might try to gently plant a seed in someone’s life, but if our actions scream that we don’t want them to grow, our seeds are useless.
People are watching. They may hear me when I talk about Jesus. That might plant a seed. They may believe me when I tell them I’ll pray for them about something. That might plant a seed. They may even see the Bible verse on my t-shirt. That might plant a seed. But I know for sure they’ll hear me if I snap at my kids. I know without a doubt they’ll remember it if I’m impatient with them. They won’t be oblivious if I am unkind to someone who cuts in front of me in a checkout line, or sits in my seat at church. They will not miss it if I go out and “kick the dirt around”. In those moments it won’t matter how many seeds I’ve planted in someone’s life if I go out and crush them before they’ve had a chance to grow.
Eventually, my garden produced a decent amount of veggies for us. There were many, many more seeds that grew than there were that were pulled up. I pray the same is true in me, in what I produce. I know I’ve made mistakes in attitudes, in words, in actions. Maybe I’ve kicked up the dirt around some things I’ve planted…but I pray that there will be many, many more seeds I’ve planted that will flourish…and maybe even plant a few good seeds of their own.