“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”
—1 Corinthians 3:6-9 (ESV)


Vacation Bible School with a friend. A grandmother carrying her Good News Bible. The piano teacher giving a book of hymns. 

On the surface, these everyday scenes may not appear to be much. The untrained eye may easily skim over them. But the untrained eye often misses the ways of God.

Because in His providence, an  invisible hand is at work, doing the awesome job of harvesting souls for eternity. This quiet ministry is called seed planting, and I am one blessed recipient. 

Seed planting happens every day. In a million little ways, all around the world, Christians are showing God’s love to non-believers through subtle actions often mistaken as mere kindness. But it is much, much more. 

Seed planting is no small ministry. While the process moves slowly, it moves surely. At first, nothing seems to be happening! Results can take years, but just as in planting a tree, with enough time and the right conditions (orchestrated by God), a fruitful harvest emerges.

A Secret Desire

As a child growing up in a home where we had religion with no relationship, I secretly longed to know God better.  But how to get there?

I got some clues when friends of mine, one whose father was a minister, invited me to Vacation Bible School. Naturally, we read the Bible there. But reading the Bible felt anything but natural to me! I handled the book with trepidation, not sure if it was “allowed.” 

The teacher showed me how to find passages. I quickly learned, then was surprised to hear that the Bible was God’s living and true Word. All of it! 

Well, this viewpoint differed wildly from my upbringing. So when I went home, I said nothing. Just tucked the new perspective in my heart to remain dormant until God’s proper timing.

Modeling

At its core, seed planting is best done by modeling. Simply living close to the Lord causes a person to stand out. For example, how a widow handles adversity; how she uses her money, time, and talent; and how she relies on God for the future all speak volumes to the watching world. Even a child can notice.

My grandmother modeled Christ for me in this way. 

She took time to write me letters, gave when she didn’t have much, and quilted pillows with my initials on them. Then delivered them with a hug.

“What’s tithing?” I asked my mom one day as I overheard her talking about grandma’s beliefs.

“It’s giving a tenth of your income to the church,” she said. Mom added that we did not tithe, but gave regularly every week. She thought tithing was taking the Bible too literally. 

The Bible. There it was again. Grandma carried one into our home. It said “Good News Bible” on the cover, and I wondered why she brought it, since she never opened it.

In retrospect, I see the book probably strengthened her. It also sent a silent testimony, a testimony about her changed life—a life being lived for God. The Good News apparently was the key. 

Here was the first born-again Christian I knew personally. She gave more clues about knowing God better. And she planted more seeds for germination.

Joyful Praise

I wanted to play the piano because my friends did. So from the ages of 12-16, I took lessons from an old woman who lived in the country  and owned a big house with a big Steinway.

For the most part, she was cranky. But when she gave me a book of hymns called Have Faith, my teacher perked up and seemed joyful.

“The love of God is greater far—
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star—
And reaches to the lowest hell.”*

Wow! All of a sudden, I was learning about more than notes and chords. I was learning about God’s love, His personal love—and how it was for me. Somehow the knowledge settled in my soul.

For years after, I spent peaceful hours at the keyboard studying those words and tunes, absorbing the Christian faith through song.

Did my piano teacher intend a spiritual lesson? I believe she did! She had a music ministry, after all. The word “ministry” simply means service, and all Christians are called into a ministry. Using our gifts and abilities for the Lord is why He gave them in the first place.

Though most of my seed planters are gone now, their work lives on. The small seeds they planted in my life as a child finally blossomed when I lost my central vision at age 33. During my time of need, I remembered the Bible and how I could read God’s Word for myself. I remembered my grandmother’s faith and future hope. And I remembered the joy my old teacher found in praising God—regardless of circumstances. 

The amazing thing about God is that He uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary plans. HIS plans. His eternal plans to draw a people to Himself (John 12:32). And though it can sometimes take a while, in God’s economy, seed planting bears eternal fruit.



*Lyrics from “The Love of God” by F. M. Lehman