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Kingdom Patience

In the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells a little story:

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" (Mark 4:26-29)

This little story reveals some important truths about the nature of the Christian life. In a reflection of the Sabbath rhythm of night and day, sleep and work, this order suggests that the first thing we do after scattering seed is to go to bed. That emphasizes that the one who really causes the growth is God. There is nothing we can do to make a harvest come except to faithfully plant and cultivate, then wait for the miracle of growth.

Sometimes it’s hard to wait for the kingdom to grow. It seems it should be more obvious, more overwhelming. We want more of the kingdom now. But God has chosen to plant his kingdom like a seed—present and growing, but still just in process. The full glory of the kingdom is yet to come, and so we wait with hope, and sometimes with impatience.

May the Lord give us faith when what he is doing is hidden to our eyes in these complicated times. May he help us to live as citizens of the kingdom, rejoicing in the small growth even as we look for the crop that is to come.

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