And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” Mark 4:26-29 (emphasis mine)
This is an important passage for anyone doing any kind of ministry to understand. This includes moms especially, whose whole day is filled with discipling little ones. A few thoughts:
1. Sleep. It is noteworthy that in this short parable, out of all the things Jesus could mention in these three verses, he includes the fact that the sower sleeps. The sower does his work, and then rests easily at night. He is not up trying to scatter more seed, fertilize the soil or water the germinating seed. He simply works hard during the day and sleeps at night, trusting that the seed will do its thing and sprout and grow properly.
So it is with our ministries. We are to work hard during the day: feeding little bellies, teaching verses to memorize, explaining the gospel (over and over and over...) and disciplining our children. And at night, we are to sleep well, trusting God to use our feeble efforts at sowing to produce a bountiful crop. Indeed, no amount of labor we can do will cause the seed to sprout. Recognizing this is the first step towards successful sowing, and should lead us to prayerful dependance on God to sprout the seeds that we sow. It should also lead to peaceful sleep at night, trusting Him to continue to work in ways that we can't.
2. Our work is to sow. Though "the earth produces by itself" the sower does not take this to mean that he should do no work. On the contrary, the sower knows that his work is to sow, but knows he does not control what actually sprouts.
So moms, know that though you can't control the ultimate results of your ministries, that your job is to be faithful in sowing, and especially to sow righteousness.
3. The earth produces by itself. This should be the most astounding and comforting words of this passage. Yes, our job is to sow, the the earth produces by itself. Another passage says, "I [Paul] planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth" (1 Corinthians 3:6). In other words, our task is the scattering of seed, but the real work is done by God, who actually causes the plant to grow and to produce fruit.
This should be a most comforting realization, and lead to the peaceful sleep mentioned above. It should encourage us in our work of sowing, knowing that God can and will produce food from it. As I heard Kevin DeYoung once say, we should have the attitude of Dory the fish (from Finding Nemo), but instead of "just keep swimming" our refrain should be "just keep sowing, just keep sowing", because we know that something will sprout. We can sow faithful and consistently because we have trust in God to produce the harvest that he will allow us one day to reap (v. 29).
What are you sowing?