And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up daily, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. Mark 4:26-27
In my own opinion as a young farmer, there is no better verse to describe my job than Mark 4:26-27. I get up every day, drink my coffee, head off to work, and do what I’ve been told to do by God. I tend to the soil and I do my best to make it productive. I go home every night after sweating over the soil, and the whole cycle repeats. At some point, after doing this for a while the soil produces a crop.
Now, we have studied the soil for many years and science can tell us what is happening, but how? I don’t believe science can answer that one. I also am not so sure we need to know. The point is not to know how. The point is to get up every day and do the little things we know will produce a harvest. The how doesn’t matter as much as the faithfulness to work in obedience to God. In my job, I am blessed to plant seeds and reap the harvest. I get to see the result of much of my labor, but when we plant spiritual seeds in people hoping for the spiritual harvest of their salvation we quite often do not get to see the results.
For instance, take the brand new Stihl FS450 clearing saw in the picture. We can call it a weed eater since that’s what we all think when we see it, but this machine is a lot more than that. This Stihl machine can clear through the brush with its 3HP motor like five guys with machetes. It is a dream come true for the Lenca Hunger Farm to finally own one to maintain our 26 acres of land and to help Radio Rio de Dios maintain their five-acre radio field. For an average working man in a Honduran village, it would take almost 20 weeks worth of labor to buy one such machine if he spent his earnings on absolutely nothing else. We have been truly blessed, but the crazy thing about this blessing is whence it came from. Allow me to tell you a bit of a backstory about another working man.
My uncle Clifford Goldsmith, just Cliff to his friends, was a big man in the kingdom of God. He was big in physical stature to be sure, but not many would have thought much of him because of his lifelong limp from cerebral palsy. He spent his life battling this limp while also battling insulin-dependent Type 1 Diabetes. Yet, he was a trained Bible scholar and pastor whose faithfulness to the work of the Lord was evident in everything he did, and he did it all with great joy. I remember his booming laugh most of all. He was a great joke teller and he would add on to the joke little by little. His laugh would grow with the joke until it filled the room and he could no longer laugh because his face was red from trying to breathe while he and everyone in the room were nearly dying of laughter. He radiated the joy of the Lord, and he tried to introduce the world to that joy.
Uncle Clifford never married. He worked for over 35 years at UPS, and he served in many churches. He took care of his widowed mother, and he lavished love and gifts on his nieces and nephews as if they were his children. He was a great friend and a working man of God who planted many spiritual seeds. On October 30th, 2015 uncle Clifford died alone in his apartment when he went into a diabetic coma. At only 58 years of age, unmarried, and alone many in our world would call his death a tragic loss, but they couldn’t have known Cliff. They surely do not know the power of his Savior. His death was a magnificent victory – the end of a spiritual race well run.
I can say this with confidence because seven years after his death the seeds Clifford planted are blooming down here in Belen, Lempira, Honduras. The $825 I spent to buy our new Stihl FS450 weed eater was sent to me by Clifford’s sister, my mother, from the money he left to his family after 35 years of careful saving at his UPS job. For 35 years Clifford got up, went to work, and did what he believed God called him to do. He planted seeds. For him, death was no loss. He walks without a limp in heaven, and I hope he and Jesus take some time to look down and see how one of his little seeds is sprouting here in the mountains of western Honduras.
“And the seed sprouts and grows,” and I still do not know how, but I do suppose I know who. Paul explains it well in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9:
I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now the one who plants and the one who waters are one, but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
God causes growth. How He does it is most often still a mystery of a miracle, but I am thankful nonetheless. If I can give you any encouragement as you walk out your faith and face the Enemy – do not forget the One who causes the growth. Do not be discouraged by setbacks and problems of any kind. Your job was never to make anyone or anything grow. Your job is to get up every day in faithful obedience to plant spiritual seeds wherever God has called you, So get up!