One year, an owner of Quiet Creek Herb Farm in Brookville, Pa., stopped by and asked if Pamela and I would like any dahlia bulbs. Pamela had a card board box full of bulbs. Regardless, we took some and stuck them in the ground close to the walls and fence boarders. She said they can get very tall and will need to be supported. The next spring I had completely forgotten about them. Thinking they were weeds, I almost pulled some of them. Then, they grew and grew and grew. The blossoms where larger than I had expected. They were not “Dinner Plate dahlias” Pamela informed me, “but they are very large.” They bloomed all summer and into fall with the astounding wine red blossoms. They were so heavy they had to be tied to structures. Dahlias quickly became one of my favorite flowers.
Many of our Lord’s stories are centered around growing things because people were familiar with that practice. The stories of seeds and bulbs are used to describe the Kingdom of God. There is promise and potential, but you must wait. You cannot help the process along very much. Things take place in their own time. Standing over the dahlias and yelling “GROW!” will do nothing. God gives the increase, the growth. Not all seeds bring fruit. Some land on bad soil, rocky or trodden, or they become food for birds. Sometimes your dog digs up the bulbs or chipmunks eat them.
Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers of the 19th century England, wrote in his work, The Treasury of David, about Psalm 126:6.
“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” He leaves his couch to go forth into the frosty air and tread the heavy soil; and as he goes he weeps because of past failures, or because the ground is so sterile, or the weather so unreasonable, or his corn so scarce and his enemies so plentiful and so eager to rob him of his reward. He drops a seed and a tear, a seed and a tear and so goes on his way. In his basket he has seed which is precious to him, for he has little of it, and it is his hope for the next year. Each grain leaves his hand with anxious prayer that it may not be lost; he thinks little of himself, but much of his seed, and he eagerly asks, “Will it prosper? Shall I receive a reward for my labour?” Yes good husbandman, doubtless you will gather sheaves from your sowing. Because the Lord has written doubtless, take heed that you do not doubt. No reason for doubt can remain after the Lord has spoken. You will return (to his field) not to sow but to reap; not to weep but to rejoice; and after a while you will go home again with nimbler step than today, though with a heavier load, for you shall have sheaves to bear with you. Your handful shall be so greatly multiplied that many sheaves shall spring from it; and you shall have the pleasure of reaping them and bringing them home to the place from which you went out weeping.” The Treasury of David, Vol.III, (Macdonald Pbl. Co., McLean, VA.)p.70
I spent that summer amazed and overjoyed by how beautiful the dahlias were. How could such a thing come from a box of lumpy dirty bulbs? Where will my labor be this fall or winter in meeting or discerning the needs of the community? What hope or promise can I plant in the cold soil? Is it in children, youth, Bible study, senior centers, or with homeless people? What seeds will you be planting this fall in your “community garden”?
May you always be reminded that your labor is not in vain, for the Lord has spoken; doubtless.
It is an honor to be your pastor,