If you travel to Israel’s Arava desert, you might just come across a miracle. He is 2,000 years old, 14″ tall, spindly and…green. The scientists who care for him nicknamed him Methuselah. Methuselah is a date palm seedling which isn’t all that remarkable in and of itself; What is remarkable is the fact that this particular little tree was grown from the oldest ever seed known to produce a plant.
The date palm seed which gave birth to Methuselah was found in the excavations of Herod the Great’s desert fortress of Masada.
If you have ever held the tiny, desiccated bit of plant fiber in your hand that is a seed, it is likely you have stopped to marvel that life could ever be hidden in something that appears to be so thoroughly dead. It is a tremendous act of faith to plant a seed. Often, as I have planted my own garden, I have been reminded of the symbolism inherent in sowing. We take a little bit of death and entomb it in the earth in the outrageous belief that resurrection will happen and abundant life will burst forth.
Some seeds take only a few days to germinate. Others sleep beneath the earth for weeks before the first hint of green reaches toward the sun. Some, like Methuselah, can lay dormant for a very long time before they bear life.
I was thinking about this mystery this past week as I loaded groceries into the back of my Jeep. My heart was heavy that day. You know how it is…we live in a broken world and hearts get broken along the way. I have found that it is often in those difficult moments that the seeds my parents planted into my life as a child begin to bear fruit.
As I placed a gallon of milk into the back of my Jeep, a seed deep inside my heart cracked open.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He restores my soul…” (Psalm 23:1-3a)
I tossed a multipack of toilet paper into the backseat as the first sprout of green reached toward the sunlight.
“He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for You are with me;
Your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:3b-4)
Bacon, fruit, bread, and vegetables were all unloaded into the back of the vehicle as a flower of praise unfolded before My Shepherd.
“You prepare a table before me
In the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely, goodness and love will
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the
forever.” (Psalm 23:5-6)
I closed the cargo hold of the Jeep, wiped a tear, and whispered a prayer of thanks for God’s faithfulness and for the faithfulness of those who planted the seed of Psalm 23 into my life so long ago.
Sometimes, those of us who are sowing seed, whether as parents or ministers, are tempted to be given to despair because it seems those seeds just aren’t bearing fruit. It is good to be reminded that some seeds lay dormant for a very long time but that doesn’t mean they were sown in vain. God has promised that they will bear fruit.
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth; It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10&11)