Sowing Seeds of Hope

By Chris George, Senior Pastor

My grandparents were farmers in Western Kentucky. Each summer, they would plant corn and soy beans, then pray and patiently wait for the harvest.  Sometimes, the rains came too early and drowned the crops. Other times, the summer sun was too severe and scorched the ground.  It was not an exact science. It was a life that required living with a little faith and a lot of hope.

A few years ago, I went back to Kentucky on our Men’s Appalachia Mission Trip. On the trip, I made a visit. I was sitting in Miss Sue’s living room, as she awaited her daughter’s return from the hospital. She had gone to the hospital because the pain of her inoperable cancer was so severe she couldn’t bear it at home. They had adjusted some medicines and promised to make her as comfortable as possible.  Hospice had been called in to help.  Her daughter’s birthday, which would be her last, would come the following week. I sat with this mother, listening to her sad story.

Her husband worked in the coal mines and had died of lung cancer. Now her daughter would soon die from brain cancer. I was struggling to come up with words. I needed to say something.

I had no words, but the mother did.  She said, “You know, Preacher, God has been good to me. Oh, we have hardship, but God keeps sending folks like you.  They come with hammers and nails, you know, and they built that ramp in the back. Come out here and look. Every day I thank God.”

I think the calling of the church in all seasons is to sow seeds of hope. Jesus said, “A sower goes out to sow seeds.” He reminds us that some of the soil is rocky and some is covered in thorns. But the sower says, “My part is to plant the seed, not judge the soil.”

Fred Craddock told a story about a little boy who grew up on a farm. His family had a red mule that would help to plow the ground. But the family was poor and the fencing around their property was weak. So often, this red mule would get out.  Invariably, the mule would walk through the back woods, across the old family cemetery to a clearing on the far side. It was an untended cemetery where many of the tombstones had fallen down or washed away. It was hard to tell where it started or ended. It was right out of Halloween or a horror movie.  It was a long walk to find the mule and to bring him back.  One day, this tedious task fell to this little boy. Now, the boy was more than a little worried about walking through a graveyard. Ghosts, goblins and evil spirits were sure to get him. It was spooky and he was scared.

So, he asked his mother, “Do I have to go through the graveyard?”  And, she responded, “There’s no other way.” Then, she added, “Be careful about the graves; they are sacred ground.”

Well, the poor little boy was even more worried now.  His mother’s warning had only increased his anxiety. He looked up at his mother and said, “Mama, I can’t tell where they are. I can’t tell what part is sacred.” 

She said, “Well, I know it all looks the same. But if you’ll just treat it all as sacred, you will never miss.”

So it is with our calling. When we treat it all as sacred, we never miss.

I was looking at one of the cracks in my driveway last week.  I don’t know exactly how it happened, but apparently a seed had fallen into this crack and I saw that something was growing there.  The soil in that crack is not what I would have called good soil, but it was good enough for this plant to sprout and grow.

As I sat across the room from that woman in Kentucky, I don’t know how it happened. But in the midst of a conversation filled with sorrow and sadness and despair, I saw a glimmer of hope. While it wasn’t what I would call good soil, hope was growing through the cracks of this easily-overlooked soul.

We are in the business of sowing seeds each day, every day. So, this summer, look at each encounter as an opportunity, each conversation as a moment of ministry, each person not just as a soul or as soil, but as sacred ground.

We change the world by planting seeds of hope and trusting in the God of the harvest.

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