My friend Andrew, was recently showing me his thriving Pawpaw trees in his yard in Townsville. He shared the story of how they came to be.
A few years back he had a gathered up all the leaf matter from around his yard and piled into a stack to get a compost heap started.
About 8 months after he had piled up all this leaf matter his wife had enjoyed a red Pawpaw and she asked Andrew if he could try and grow some of these trees. So he took the seeds and planted some into some good soil he prepared and the rest he threw into the developing compost heap.
Well the seeds never produced in the good soil he prepared and he had forgotten about the rest. About 12 months later they had a substantial amount of rain and out of this compost about 30 Pawpaw plants began to shoot. And they got to about 400mm high and Andrew thought, “wow!” he will have a great crop. He was especially excited because he had done nothing really with the compost heap and thought this was pretty amazing that they had come after all this time.
About two months after they began to thrive they got another substantial amount of rain and because the Pawpaw trees were now sitting in water they all rotted and died. He was very disappointed!
Some 12 months after this event he moved his compost into a garden bed he was preparing. In this bed he planted all sorts of bushes and trees. But to his surprise out of the soil and compost grew three Pawpaw trees. He was totally surprised by this, but thought from previous experience they would quickly die.
However not only did they grow they thrived and produced more trees, which he has now planted in other places around his house. Of all the plants he planted in the garden bed the Pawpaw trees are thriving the most.
He has no idea how or why this has happened but it did! He just carried the seed around, intentionally planting some and while the rest he just threw out randomly.
This can teach us so much about Mark 4:1-9 and Mark 4:26-29.
“Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around him was so large that he got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. 2 He taught them many things by parables, and in his teaching said: 3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.9 Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”
“He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground.27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29)
Let’s continue to be seed carriers in our everyday life. Let’s sow the seed generously and randomly. Let’s give enough time to see what might happen. Let’s be clueless with expectation.
God uses random events to bring things together, which we could not manufacture or foresee (A stack of leaves and Red Pawpaw seed).
Seed planting comes first from us tasting and seeing that the fruit is good. (The red Pawpaw tasted good and they wanted more).
We cannot prepare the soil of a person heart and mind that is God’s job. (The soil Andrew prepared initially was not right for the Pawpaw seed they didn’t even shoot).
We are carriers of the seed not protectors of the seed (All Andrew did was transport the seed around his yard, how it stayed alive and produced he has no idea).
We have no idea what is going on in the soil of someone’s heart and mind. Nor do we need too! (The seed was lying dormant in the compost until the right conditions came together.)
Early flourish of shoots does not equate to lasting fruit. (The 30 shoots of pawpaw didn’t last after the first adverse condition hit.)
Patience is such a key to witnessing seed shooting and bearing fruit. (It was three years before the first of the pawpaw seeds began to grow substantially and it was another 2 years before they reproduced).
Ron & Paula Turner are regional leaders in Outback Queensland. They travel from town to town, serving the people, looking initiating spiritual conversations and looking for the People of Peace that God has prepared. The journey isn’t always easy but we love how these guys are obedient and follow Jesus wherever He calls! We are all continually learning as we step out and make disciples.