This parable of the seed growing secretly (Mark 4:26-29) is found only in Mark’s Gospel – and its teaching is urgently needed in our speed-crazed world.
God created time, and hallowed time – and I think God likes us to spend time, and not try to beat it!
“I waited patiently upon the Lord: he stooped to me and heard my cry,” the Psalmist says.
“O tarry, and await the Lord’s pleasure. Be strong, and he shall comfort your heart. Wait patiently for the Lord.”
We ourselves are sometimes in too much of a hurry, spiritually, expecting God, at our bidding, to work miracles overnight.
And we often judge the progress of God’s kingdom by what we can see. But so often the real growth happens unseen.
When I was a rector, in the last days of winter, I used to like planting hyacinth bulbs in bowls. I’d plant the bulbs deep into the soil and then put the bowls into a dark cupboard under the stairs, and leave them there. As the weeks went by I’d often go and look at the bowls to see if anything was happening. Sometimes I was tempted to put my fingers in the soil and start digging around to see how the roots looked – but they don’t like that! They like to be left patiently, to grow silently and mysteriously.
And then suddenly, one day – wow – there’s a green shoot poking through the soil – then another – and soon the lush beautiful flowers, and then the whole room is filled with that wonderful scent of spring.
Perhaps God likes to surprise us and delight us. But we have to be patient.
I think in our own spiritual lives we are often in too much of a hurry. We long for instant change and growth. But it’s probably in our darkest moments, when nothing seems to be happening, and we feel most anxious: it is often then, silently and mysteriously, that God is at work – ready one day to surprise us and delight us.
This is true for ourselves, our family, our parish, our community.
I find these words, by the Jesuit theologian, Teilhard de Chardin, helpful:
trust in the slow work of God.
We are, quite naturally,
impatient in everything to reach the end
We should like to skip
the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being
on the way to something unknown,
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability –
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually –
let them grow.
Let them shape themselves,
without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of
feeling yourself in suspense and
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