Faith is the hope of things unseen, the Bible says. We gardeners know this to be true—we watch tiny seeds turn into something beautiful. We have a front row seat to the miracle of transformation—a patch of mud and dried leaves becomes a tapestry of flowers and edibles.
I think faith is not just hoping, though. It’s acting on that hope. When I have faith, I walk forward, not knowing what the future will bring, but acting as if there were a reason to trust. Because so far, there has been. My life has not been free of disappointments, certainly. Very few can claim that—unless they’ve become experts at denial. But God’s been good. I try to focus on the blessings, and trust they will continue.
Today, I acted on faith by planting poppies. It is still winter here in Chicago (despite the occasional warm day). While it’s way too early to plant anything else, this is prime planting time for poppies. The seeds are tiny—just like the poppy seeds you’d find on a bakery roll. If I hadn’t seen it happen every year, I’d find it hard to believe that by late June, those tiny seeds will become bright pink puffy flowers the size of my fist, blooming on stalks two feet tall or more.
The seeds were ones I harvested last year from the plants—I’ve done this for years, starting with some seeds given me by gardening mentors.
To plant poppies requires faith. And action. You simply scatter them on the soil (in some years, I’ve put them right on top of snow). The seeds need cold to germinate, so I’m hoping I haven’t planted too late. Optimally, I should have planted them last month. But if I leave them in the plastic bag on the shelf, they’ll never be flowers. They’ll just be good intentions.
My second act of faith today was finishing a book proposal and sending it to my agent. Every time I finish writing a book, as I did a couple of months ago, the voice of doubt whispers, “you have nothing left to say. You may have written a few books, but you probably won’t write another one. Give up, go apply for a job at Wal-Mart—if you think they’ll have you.”
The voice of love says, “use the gifts I’ve given you, and trust.” So I want to put my faith in the voice of Love, which is God’s voice. I want to follow God, listen to his voice. So I don’t just sit back and hope I’ll get another book contract. I pray, I seek wisdom, I do research. Then I write the proposal. I self-edit, hone the writing. I send it to my agent so he can help me make it even better. I trust, but I also have to act.
Jesus often used seeds as a picture of the kingdom of heaven. He was not talking about a someday, somewhere else kingdom, but rather, a present reality. In Mark 4: 26-32, we read this about Jesus:
“He also said, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.’ Again he said, ‘What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.’”
Even when it’s still winter, I trust spring will come. I trust God will provide, and help the seeds I’m planting to bloom. To take my small acts of faith, and grow them into something beautiful.