without us planting the Word in their hearts? Think about kids. We live in a society where we expect others to teach our kids. Reading? At school. Swimming? At the pool. Jesus? At church. Are we planting God’s Word into our family’s hearts at home? If I plant strawberries, there’s no guarantee they will grow. But I can guarantee what strawberries won’t ever grow—the ones I don’t plant. Do we expect a harvest without planting? That’s foolish!
A study in 1999 found that 5% of WELS families read God’s Word regularly at home. 5%. That’s not very many! What keeps us, even as Christians, from planting God’s Word over and over again in our hearts and lives? Either we must not think God is very great, or we don’t trust that God’s Word is going to work. Both are bad! How many oppor-tunities have we missed to encourage our spouse with God’s Word? How many opportuni-ties have we missed to plant God’s Word in our children’s hearts day after day? And then suddenly it hits you like it did for that man in the hospital bed. You see loved ones drift away. What’s not planted won’t grow.
If this is really hitting home in your heart, that’s good! That means you care about Jesus and you care about the people Jesus has put in your life. It hurts to think about how we have failed to plant the most important thing in our loved ones’ hearts. But now it’s time for God’s Word to work in your heart. It’s planted there too. And it’s God’s Word that reminds you about Jesus. About how he died for every one of your sins. For every failure of your past. God forgives you. And he wants you to know something wonderful. Nobody’s faith depends on you. Take that burden off your shoulders. Faith depends on God. When you don’t know it, when you don’t see it, God’s Word is working in their hearts. Like a seed in the ground, at God’s time it will grow.
So keep on planting God’s Word! I know that sometimes as a parent or friend you can feel so powerless. “It’s not working.” “They’re not listening.” But how long does it take for a seed to grow? Once that farmer puts the seed in the ground, he has to leave the rest up to the seed and the God who made it. The results aren’t in his control, but they’re in God’s control. And that’s a good thing! This is what Jesus wants you to remember. Chris-tians are farmers. God makes us no promise that everyone we love will be in heaven. But he promises that his Word is powerful. It’s always working. You can’t control the results, but you can keep on planting God’s Word!
But is it really going to work? Is God’s Word really going to accomplish anything? It sure doesn’t seem like it does! So Jesus keeps going. He asks us a question, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like?” Jesus invites us to think: What is God’s kingdom like? What would you say? What do you want to say? It’s like the Golden State Warriors—always win-ning! It’s like a song by Adele—grand and beautiful! What’s God’s kingdom like? How about this: Jesus says it’s like a mustard seed. When you picked out a father’s day card at the store, did you see the one that said, “Dad, you’re like a mustard seed?” No! It doesn’t sound good. So tiny. So unimportant.
But Jesus had another parable to tell. The kingdom of God “is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.” A farmer takes and plants this littlest of all seeds. What would you expect to come from a little mustard seed? Something small, right? But that little seed over time grows and grows and grows until it’s one of the biggest garden plants around. People say a mustard plant can be ten to fifteen feet tall! That little seed produces big results.
Great. I like mustard! But what’s the point? Why add this parable? Jesus is making us a huge promise. No matter what you see on the outside, God’s kingdom is always grow-ing. God has big plans for his Word and his people that we can’t imagine. What you see on the outside right now doesn’t tell the whole story. That’s something that we need to hear! It can so often seem like doing God’s work doesn’t work. But you don’t know what God can do with that seed planted in someone’s heart. Little by little, day by day, those family devo-tions, reading Bible stories, coming to church…. It’s having an impact. So keep on planting!
It’s just hard to plant and have to wait. It’s hard not to see results now! We are so used to instant gratification. Let’s be honest: It’s a whole lot easier to get carrots at the store than grow them in a