Updated: Jan 28
In our culture today, we’ve grown accustomed to ease and split-second results. Overnight success stories feed our appetite for doing big things that yield big results.
It’s hard to wait.
And while we may not consciously be thinking our neighboring efforts need to show bear fruit overnight, if our efforts don’t yield certain outcomes within certain time frames, we can become discouraged, disinterested and done.
Many of us can relate to the entitled words of Veruca Salt’s character in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when she sings her demands to her father:
“I want the works
I want the whole works
Presents and prizes and sweets and surprises
Of all shapes and sizes
Don't care how
I want it now
Don't care how
I want it now.”
Jesus offers an andetode to the Veruca Salt in all of us. We want the works––the whole works––and we don’t care how, we just want it now. Jesus tells us of a Kingdom which grows in our midst, but starts from humble beginnings and happens at a much slower pace than we might like.
He explained it this way: “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown, it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31–32)
The Kingdom Of God Has Small (Miniature) Beginnings
When Jesus said the mustard seed was “the smallest of all seeds” his original hearers weren’t watching him pull out a ruler and compare its size to other seeds on the table. He was speaking proverbially and they knew what he was getting at. Few people marvel at mustard seeds––or any seeds for that matter––saying to themselves, “Wow, these little things have enormous potential.” At first glance, seeds strike us as inconsequential and well, miniature. A wise gardener, however, knows that great treasures will eventually come from these miniature boxes.
What “miniature” interactions with your neighbors have you had lately?
Think about that short conversation at the mailbox or the wave to a neighbor as you drove by, or that time you spent praying for God to help deepen your friendships with your neighbors.
Even the most miniature, faith-filled actions have the potential to bring neighborhood wide healing and restoration.
The Kingdom Of God Grows Over Time
“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown…”
When it has grown...
When we want a salad, we go to the store and pick out our lettuce, carrots and cucumbers. We rarely consider how long it took for those vegetables to grow, let alone that each vegetable we hold was at one point a seed. These seeds were not cooked for thirty seconds in a microwave, rather they were planted with care in the right soil with the expectation that growth would come over time.
Likewise, Jesus is saying that the Kingdom of God does not come overnight. It begins very small and––much to the dismay of our inner Veruca Salt––change does not happen instantaneously. Jesus is encouraging us to have a posture of patience and embrace a commitment to the growth process that includes a degree of delay.
What About You?
Are you addicted to a “bigger and better” mindset? Do you love immediacy? Maybe you can relate to a neighboring mindset which says, “I want the works. I want the whole works. I don’t care how, I want it now!”
What has been on your plate recently that has felt miniature or inconsequential? How can you change your mindset to believe God to work through the “smallest of seeds?”
What has been delayed in your life during this season of Covid-19? How does it help you to remember that His Kingdom grows over time?
Take heart. God knows that all of his children have Veruca Salt tendencies. He is our good parent and doesn’t leave us alone in our immaturity. He is calling us to a kingdom-mindset which does not despise small beginnings and embraces delay as part of the growth… even in ourselves.