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Mark 051 - Automatic



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 4:28,29


Sometimes in life, all you have to do is nothing, and things happen. Like today, I received a postcard in the mail, with the joyous reminder of my upcoming dentist appointment. We also get automatic electronic reminders for just about everything; prescription refills, all our bills, car registrations, taxes, you name it. Our irrigation system turns itself on and off without having to do a thing.


When I talk to people about technology and automation, I use an expression to get their attention. It’s catchy and at the same time expresses the idea. I say, “All you have to do is nothing” and the technology will take care of it.


For example, when you’re using your mobile phone in the car, all you have to do is nothing and the signal automatically moves from one cell tower to another. Or, when you’re watching a show on your video streaming service, and you come to the end of an episode. All you have to do is nothing and the next one automatically starts.


It's like this with grain from seed. All you have to do is nothing and the growth process begins. You don’t have to click a “Download” button. You don’t have to send in a coupon with the receipt attached. You don’t even have to hit “zero” to talk to another human being. You throw the seed on the ground and that’s it.


Then the seed takes over. Without any outside information or notification, the seed does its thing. It automatically sends down roots and shoots up. There are no outside controls either, the seed does it all on its own.


You take a seed, soil, sunlight, and moisture, then stand back. It all happens whether we watch it or not. It’s like the potato planting scenes in The Martian[1]. Mark Watney (Matt Damon) plants potatoes and provides water, then he just stands back. One day, he walks by and finds a shoot has broken through.


You see, the secret of growth is not in the soil, not in the sunlight, not even in the water. But the secret of growth is in the seed. God’s word has all the secret ability and power to germinate, grow, and produce grain.


But there is a natural tension going on here. The seed grows, but we have a partnership, a responsibility. While the seed germinates and grows all on its own, we are to work hard, pray hard, serve with all our creativity and might. And then, we can rest and relax about the outcome.


The growing process brings the seed to complete maturity, developing and producing fully ripened grain. But just sprouting isn’t enough. Growing up doesn’t do it. Even producing grain is not the endgame. Harvesting is.


Jesus has all the confidence in the world that the harvest is coming. God’s word will not just be thrown to be carried off by the wind. It will not just fall and lie there. We have the promise of God that it will grow and produce a harvest.


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 55:11


The seed fulfills its purpose not through growth, not by hanging on, not even by producing grain. It’s true purpose comes through giving itself up to the harvest. It offers itself when its ripe. It doesn’t put up any defenses. It doesn’t try and stop the harvest. It doesn’t try to hang on.


There is release and relief when the struggle and effort of birth, sending down roots, sending out shoots, growing and maturing grain is over. We get to hear the words that we so long to hear. They are the words that bring us over the finish line of life.


Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’


Matthew 25:21


I know that life can be hard. I understand that there is pain, struggle, loss, and death all around. We wonder what it’s all about, what’s it all for? We sometimes fear the moment that the sickle strikes.


The answer to these most important questions is not found in this life. But in the coming harvest when we are automatically brought home into eternity, into God’s presence forever.


Now, that’s the ultimate “all you have to do is nothing” moment.

[1] https://youtu.be/DKd6-ugozkA?t=220

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